Tag Archives: AOPA

UAV219 Drone Registration: It’s Baaack!

Authority for drone registration would return to the FAA if the National Defense Authorization Act is signed into law. Airbus subsidiary A³ is building full-scale demonstrators of an electric single-seat tilt-rotor VTOL aircraft for a fleet of autonomous self-piloted taxis, LAANC is starting at four airports, AT&T deploys their Cell on Wings, and AOPA holds their first Drone Talk webinar.

UAV News

Congress Poised to Restore Drone Registration Tossed by Court

H.R. 2810: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 contains a measure that would give the FAA authority to bring back drone registration. A committee resolved differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, and the House approved the committee report. The Senate is expected to vote, and if passed the bill would go to the President for signature.

The legislative language is on page 829 of the National Defense Authorization Act conference report [PDF]:

(d) RESTORATION OF RULES FOR REGISTRATION AND MARKING OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.—The rules adopted by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in the matter of registration and marking requirements for small unmanned aircraft (FAA-2015-7396; published on December 16, 2015) that were vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Taylor v. Huerta (No. 15-1495; decided on May 19, 2017) shall be restored to effect on the date of enactment of this Act.

Track the progress of the bill at GovTrack.us.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) are in favor of drone registration. The AMA FAQ answers some questions about the resumption of drone registration.

Airbus will test its Vahana electric ‘flying car’ by the end of 2017

Airbus is building two full-scale demonstrators of an electric, single-seat tilt-rotor VTOL aircraft. Their goal is first flight by the end of 2017 at their flight test center in Pendleton, Oregon. Airbus’ A³ subsidiary envisions a fleet of autonomous multi-rotor aircraft acting as self-piloted taxis, with a production-ready version by 2020.

Concept video: Vahana: Airbus entwickelt selbstfliegendes Lufttaxi

FAA Rolls Out Automated Authorizations for Drone Flights

Part 107 commercial drone operators can obtain automated authorization to fly in controlled airspace. This is under the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program and applies to four U.S. airports: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International (CVG) Airport, Lincoln Airport (LNK) in Nebraska, Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) in Nevada, and California’s San Jose International Airport (SJC). AirMap and Skyward will provide the service via smartphone and as many as 49 more airports will be added by 2018.

AT&T deploys first cell site on wings

AT&T is using a COW (cell on wings) in Puerto Rico where connectivity is still out in many areas after Hurricane Maria. They say this is the first time an LTE cell site on a drone has been successfully deployed to connect residents after a disaster. The drone is tethered 200 feet above the ground with the tether providing power and data transmission. The COW can stay airborne for several hours.

AT&T’s First Official Deployment of Cell On Wings In Puerto Rico

First AOPA Drone Talk webinar available

AOPA Director of Regulatory Affairs Justin Barkowski, Senior Director of UAS Programs Kat Swain, and Legal Services Plan attorneys Jared Allen and Chad Mayer offer expert advice for navigating current federal regulations, along with a growing number of state and local rules and regulations that drone pilots should be aware of (or risk fines and penalties) in AOPA’s first Drone Talk webinar, recorded Nov. 10, 2017.

Watch the webinar: AOPA Drone Talk Series: Drones and the Legal Landscape

See also the AOPA YouTube channel: AOPA | Your Freedom to Fly

Hogan Lovells UAS Regulatory and Policy Developments webinar

Lisa Ellman and Matt Clark from Hogan Lovells were joined by CNN Senior Counsel Emily Avant to talk about Part 107 waivers, the CNN waiver for flights over people, the UAS Integration Pilot Program, LAANC, and a few notable aspects of drone activity in 2017.

UAV216 Making American Aviation Great Again

President Trump directs the DOT and FAA to launch an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, a company drops out of the Navy MQ-25A Stingray competition, a long endurance drone flies for five days, and a microbot swims underwater and flies in the air.

Vanilla Aircraft long endurance drones

Long endurance drones, courtesy Vanilla Aircraft.

UAV News

President Donald Trump and Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announce Innovative Drone Integration Pilot Program

In a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Transportation, President Trump directed the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, “to launch an initiative to safely test and validate advanced operations for drones in partnership with state and local governments in select jurisdictions.” This “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program” seeks to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace, and realize the benefits of unmanned technology in the economy.

The directive describes policy, the UAS Integration Pilot Program, implementation, responsibilities for coordination, and program evaluation. See also:

Northrop Grumman Drops Out of MQ-25A Stingray Competition

Northrop Grumman will not compete to build the Navy MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling vehicle, even though the company developed the test platform that demonstrated autonomous takeoff and landing from an aircraft carrier. During an October 25, 2017, earnings call, Northrop CEO Wes Bush said, “When we’re looking at one of these opportunities… our objective is not just to win. Winning is great, it feels good on the day of an announcement, but if you can’t really execute on it and deliver on it to your customer and your shareholders, then you’ve done the wrong thing.”

Vanilla Aircraft Completes 5-Day Flight

As we described in episode 179, Vanilla Aircraft VA001 unmanned aircraft system completed a non-stop, unrefueled 56-hour flight at the New Mexico UAS Flight Test Center. Then, on October 18, 2017, VA001 took off from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and landed 5.1 days later with 3 days of fuel remaining. This project was funded under a contract through Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). The aircraft has a 50-pound payload capability and can supply up to 800 watts to the payload bay. Vanilla Aircraft plans to start production in the coming months for a multitude of applications.

AOPA Drone Talk: Drones and the Legal Landscape

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) will conduct a free webinar November 10, 2017, at 8 PM Eastern. The discussion will center around how the drone space has evolved, the important legal matters you should be aware of, and how AOPA can help protect your freedom to fly. This drone talk webinar will be suitable for both remote pilots and those flying for fun.

Insect-sized robot can go from air to water and back again

Harvard University engineers have developed the “Robobee,” a 175-milligram flapping-wing robot that can fly, land on water, swim underneath, and take off again. To counter the problem of water surface, the engineers designed a device that uses electrolysis to convert some of the water into hydrogen and oxygen for buoyancy, then ignites the gas for a boosted takeoff.

UAV Video of the Week

These ‘robo-bees’ can dive, swim, and jump

The Quantum Tron UAV

In Omega Tau podcast episode 267, host Markus Voelter talks with Quantum Systems
CEO Florian Seibel about the Tron VTOL drone.

 

 

 

 

 

UAV204 Drone Registration Planned for the UK

The UK plans to require registration for drones over 250 grams, a study looks at drone strikes on aircraft windscreens, a transformable UAV is under development, Airbus tested their Sagitta demonstrator, some DJI Sparks are experiencing a problem, and draft Technical Standard Orders win AOPA approval.

The Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

The Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

UAV News

Drones to be registered and users to sit safety tests under new government rules

Drone registration is coming to the UK, along with drone safety awareness tests. This will apply to drones over 250 grams. Operators may be able to register online or with an app. The government also plans for expanded use of geofencing in the UK.

Drones and manned aircraft collisions: test results

The summary report from the Department for Transport, British Airline Pilots’ Association, and the Military Aviation Authority says drones weighing 400 grams could damage windscreens. Airliner windscreens were found to be more resistant than helicopter windscreens.

The Small Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones): Mid-Air Collision Study [PDF] was conducted by QinetiQ and Natural Impacts using laboratory collision testing and computer modelling. The study aimed to find the lowest speed at collision where critical damage could occur to aircraft components. Critical damage was defined in this study to mean major structural damage of the aircraft component or penetration of drone through the windscreen into the cockpit. The study indicated that:

  • Non-birdstrike certified helicopter windscreens have very limited resilience to the impact of a drone, well below normal cruise speeds.
  • The non-birdstrike certified helicopter windscreen results can also be applied to general aviation aeroplanes which also do not have a birdstrike certification requirement.
  • Although the birdstrike certified windscreens tested had greater resistance than non-birdstrike certified, they could still be critically damaged at normal cruise speeds.
  • Helicopter tail rotors are also very vulnerable to the impact of a drone, with modelling showing blade failures from impacts with the smaller drone components tested.
  • Airliner windscreens are much more resistant, however, the study showed that there is a risk of critical windscreen damage under certain impact conditions: It was found that critical damage did not occur at high, but realistic impact speeds, with the 1.2 kg class drone components. However, critical damage did occur to the airliner windscreens at high, but realistic, impact speeds, with the 4 kg class drone components used in this study.
  • The construction of the drone plays a significant role in the impact of a collision. Notably, the 400 g class drone components, which included exposed metal motors, caused critical failure of the helicopter windscreens at lower speeds than the 1.2 kg class drone components, which had plastic covering over their motors. This is believed to have absorbed some of the shock of the collision, reducing the impact.
  • The testing and modelling showed that the drone components used can cause significantly more damage than birds of equivalent masses at speeds lower than required to meet birdstrike certification standards.

The THOR Hybrid UAV

A team of students at the Singapore University of Technology and Design is developing the Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR). The prototype is based on the single-blade monocopter concept from 1913, although THOR actually has two opposing wings, mounted at right angles to each other. The wings rotate into alignment when transitioning from hover to cruise. See episode #48 Evan Ulrich and his RoboSeed for our previous conversation about a monocopter UAV.

Video: SUTD Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR)

Successful first flight for UAV demonstrator SAGITTA

Airbus Defence and Space has flown their demonstrator Sagitta UAV. The 25 percent scale fixed-wing aircraft is powered by two turbine engines. It was developed in cooperation with a number of industry and academic partners.

Some DJI Spark drones are falling from the sky, and that’s to be expected

Complaints have appeared in DJI forums that some of the new Spark drones are shutting down and falling from the sky. DJI has issued a statement:

“DJI is aware of a small number of reports involving Spark drones that have lost power mid-flight. Flight safety and product reliability are top priorities. Our engineers are thoroughly reviewing each customer case and working to address this matter urgently. DJI products are tested for thousands of hours, and the overwhelming number of customers enjoy using our products with minimal disruption.”

AOPA Backs Unmanned System Standards

Two draft TSOs (Technical Standard Orders) have been issued that would apply to unmanned aircraft transitioning to and from Class A and special-use airspace, and traversing other types of airspace. The TSOs are meant to determine minimum standards that allow manned and unmanned aircraft to remain safely separated. The draft standards would not apply to small UAS – those under 55 pounds and governed by Part 107.

TSO-C211, Detect and Avoid (DAA) Systems [PDF]

TSO-C212, Air-to-Air Radar (ATAR) for Traffic Surveillance [PDF]

UAV Video of the Week

Soccer fans use toilet roll to take down drone in Argentina

 

 

 

UAV202 Piaggio HammerHead Testing Resumes

A year after the crash of the prototype, testing of the Piaggio HammerHead UAS is underway again. We also look at drones and field biology, security, and swarming technology.

The Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH HammerHead

The P.1HH HammerHead UAS, courtesy Piaggio Aerospace.

UAV News

Piaggio Aerospace Resumes Test Flights of Hammerhead UAV

In May 2016, the prototype Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH HammerHead UAV crashed off the coast of Sicily. Reportedly, there were flight control system integration problems. Testing has now resumed and eight systems are to be delivered to the United Arab Emirates. The MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) Hammerhead is derived from the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II business aviation aircraft, a twin turboprop pusher aircraft.

Drones hunt down rare plants in Hawaii by going where people can’t

GIS specialist Ben Nyberg is the lead drone pilot for the National Tropical Botanical Garden. While flying a drone at a 1,000-acre preserve in Hawaii, he discovered a very rare plant on a steep, inaccessible cliff. Less than 25 of these plants were thought to exist. With the drone, they discovered about 10 more of these plants, as well as several other critically endangered plants.

Homeland Security concerned about commercial drones being used for ‘nefarious purposes’

According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson, “DHS does consider commercial drones configured or modified to employ explosives or weapons a concern. This is due to low-cost, ease of access, and the quick-pace of this evolving technology to adapt beneficial Unmanned System equipment for nefarious purposes.” The US Army has published a 13-page document, Counter – Unmanned Aircraft System Strategy Extract [PDF].

USAF calls for drone defences after F-22 overflight

Drones are being spotted around military aircraft in the U.S. and the Air Combat Command has no authority to deal with them. It’s a civil authority that has to be granted first before it can be executed by military forces.

DJI Is Locking Down Its Drones Against a Growing Army of DIY Hackers

People have found ways to get around DJI’s flight restrictions and they’ve published the exploits online. DJI updated their software to break the hacks, but that just leads to another round in the battle.

Micro Systems Develops New Drone Swarming Technology

Kratos Defense and Security Solutions subsidiary Micro Systems announced its WOLF-PAK swarming technology. There is no centralized control system and the swarm of autonomous vehicles follows a leader vehicle. Vehicles recognize and locate each other and keep a predefined distance apart.

WOLF-PAK demonstration video:

 

 

Walmart commissioning Griffiss for drone delivery research

Walmart has reportedly been working with one of the UAS test sites to develop drone-based package delivery. But now the retailer is additionally engaging the UAS test site in upstate New York.

Mentioned

The DronesGlobal Slack Team is a members-only Slack team “for commercial drone operators, manufacturers, buyers, suppliers and experts from around the world.” There is a one-time fee of $49 and applications are subject to approval.

Your AOPA membership will get you 20% off the Drone World Expo conference or a free Expo pass. To be held October 3-4, 2017, at the San Jose Convention Center in the Capital of Silicon Valley.

Can I fly there? Is a drone safety app from CASA. It reflects the standard operating conditions for those flying their drone commercially (under the excluded category of commercial operations) and is a valuable educational and situational awareness tool for both commercial and recreational drone flyers.

XKCD provides another good drone comic.

FlytBase Inc. is a Silicon Valley startup creating developer tools for intelligent and connected commercial drones. They say their FlytBase Cloud platform helps developers connect drones with cloud-based business applications over a real-time secure link. It provides access to real-time drone control, telemetry and payload data.

FlytBase Cloud: Internet of Drones Platform

 

 

UAV186 AOPA UAS Programs

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Senior Director of UAS Programs explains the organization’s strategies for unmanned aircraft.

Guest

Kathleen “Kat” Swain

Kathleen “Kat” Swain, Senior Director for AOPA UAS Programs.

Kathleen “Kat” Swain is Senior Director for AOPA UAS Programs. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association created the position in 2016, and since then Kat has been working to implement the organization’s strategies for UAS.

Kat was a manned aircraft pilot before she became a remote pilot and has multiple ratings. She is a flight instructor, having instructed both military and civilian pilots. Kat has flown drones for many purposes, including insurance industry support and humanitarian missions.

We discuss the AOPA commitment to unmanned aviation, and how manned and unmanned pilots share the same desire to protect the safety of the airspace. Kat explains the value of AOPA advocacy and the benefits of membership that AOPA offers drone pilots. That includes insurance, legal assistance, pilot protection services, and the new AOPA Drone Pilot biweekly newsletter that covers training and safety, gear, lifestyle, regulation and policy, and drone news.

See:

UAV Video of the Week

Don Toporowski manages the ACE climatic wind tunnel at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The facility tests drones and can simulate the types of precipitation and clouds that UAVs have to deal with at lower speeds and altitudes. ACE actually creates repeatable water droplets, freezing rain, and clouds. This funny video illustrates the limits of a DJI Phantom 4’s ability to fly in high winds.

A Drone’s Worst Nightmare…

 

UAV184 AOPA Welcomes Drone Pilots

Drone pilots are welcome to join AOPA, drone sightings increase again, a large autonomous freight drone prototype, a beyond visual line of sight record, and autonomous package delivery by UPS.

UAV News

AOPA Welcomes Drone PilotsAOPA believes manned and unmanned pilots are more alike than different: “…both groups are part of general aviation, and share a fascination for flight and a craving for new perspectives.” To bring drone pilots into the organization, AOPA created a senior director of UAS programs and selected Kathleen “Kat” Swain to fill the position in April 2016. More recently, AOPA entered into a formal agreement with DARTdrones to offer their online training course free to AOPA members. Also, AOPA members will be eligible for a discount on an online Part 107 test preparation course, and members can experience drone demonstrations and live seminars at major airshows and at AOPA’s Regional Fly-Ins.

FAA Releases Updated Drone Sighting Reports

The reports of potential encounters with UAS come from pilots, air traffic controllers, law enforcement, and citizens. The latest data cover February through September 2016 and show reports increasing to 1,274 during that period compared to 874 reports for the same period in 2015. The FAA makes the data available through their UAS Sightings Report page.

Exclusive: Natilus Offers First Look at Freight Drone Prototype

Natilus wants to build a large autonomous freight drone and reduce global air freight costs by 50% over that of a 747 freighter. The San Jose, California-based company received $750,000 in seed funding in June 2016 from Draper Associates. Their Nemo prototype “is about the size of a small predator military drone.”

Nevada-based Consortium using Drone America UAV Completes First Long-Distance Beyond Line of Sight Urban Package Delivery

The 39-mile beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight was flown under the Nevada UAS Test Site’s FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) on February 15, 2017. Led by the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, which manages the UAS Test Site, the fixed-wing Drone America Savant™ UAV flew at up to 1,500 feet AGL.

UPS tests residential delivery via drone launched from atop package car

UPS announced that they successfully tested the autonomous delivery of a package by a drone launched from the top of a UPS truck. Under the UPS concept, while the drone is making its delivery, the driver continues on to make a separate delivery. Tests were conducted in Tampa, Florida with a Workhorse Group HorseFly™ octocopter.

UAV Video of the Week

UPS Tests Residential Delivery via Drone