An interview by Tim Trott with drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht at Drone Dealer Expo 2016.
We continue our coverage of Drone Dealer Expo 2016 with an insightful conversation that Tim Trott recorded with Jonathan Rupprecht from Rupprecht Law.
Jonathan notes that the industry will become more regulated and comments on the responsibilities of drone manufacturers and retailers. He also has a very interesting and sobering take on the many organizations that represent the unmanned industry: their objectives, focus on constituencies, power, and approach to dealing with the FAA.
Jonathan comments on regulations that are coming in the future, such as the “micro UAV” rule recommendations, FAA reauthorization, Part 107 changes, and even Part 48 drone registration as a result of the lawsuit. We also hear his thoughts on the “cowboy operators” and the risks they pose.
The Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrike aircraft is intended to be a pilotless VTOL aircraft that can carry several thousand pounds of cargo and achieve a 400-knot cruise speed. A one-fifth-scale model has achieved its first flight.
The Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned VTOL X-plane, shore-to-ship package delivery, Senate FAA reauthorization bill impacts UAS, more proposed local drone legislation, a new DJI Phantom, and high-altitude sUAS flying.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded second- and third-phase contract awards to Aurora Flight Sciences for the “LightningStrike” technology demonstrator. Aurora plans to start flight testing the vertical takeoff and landing experimental plane (VTOL X-Plane) in 2018.
The LightningStrike features two large rear wings and two smaller front canards. The same Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine used in V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is mounted in the fuselage and powers three Honeywell generators which drive 24 ducted fans on the wings and canards. The wings and canards rotate to direct the fan thrust for hovering, transition, and forward flight.
A French Xamen Technologies drone dropped a small package onto a Maersk tanker in Denmark as a test to see if drones could be used to deliver spare parts, mail, or medicine to a ship. Compared to traditional means of delivery, the potential cost savings is significant.
The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has introduced a bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill that does not include any proposal for air traffic control privatization. However, under the Senate bill, the US National Institute of Standards (NIST) and the FAA would “develop risk-based, consensus industry standards on [UAV] aircraft safety.”
“The FAA would also establish a process for the airworthiness approval of small [UAVs] based on the consensus standards, in lieu of the more cumbersome certification process used for the approval of other aircraft. These standards … approved by FAA would ultimately improve safety by prescribing which safety technologies would be built into unmanned aircraft systems sold in the United States.”
Reacting to the well-publicised drone weaponization exploits of a Connecticut teen, state legislators have conducted public hearings and proposed legislation to outlaw certain activity.
One bill would make it a class C felony, punishable by one to ten years in prison, to use a drone to release tear gas or other substances, or to control a deadly weapon or explosive device. Another bill would also limit how law enforcement and state agencies can use drones. But Peter Sachs, author of the Drone Law Journal, says one version of the bill exempts police from the ban on weaponized drones.
Utah is not fooling around when it comes to drones. The recently introduced Senate Bill 210 would designate certain drone activity as aerial trespassing, and create guidelines for enforcement, including an option for police to shoot down rogue UAVs. State Senator Wayne Harper wants to address three issues: privacy, non-interference with airports and aircraft, and non-interference with emergency situations.
The bill would ban drones within 500 feet of correctional institutions or within three miles of a wildfire, and make it illegal to use a drone in the surveillance of large crowds or for stalking someone in a voyeuristic way. Violating drones could be neutralized by first responders or law enforcement officers.
DJI introduced the Phantom 4 which can dodge obstacles and track humans. The Phantom 4 features two sensors that allow it to react to and avoid obstacles in its path. The TapFly mode lets you tap on the live view on your smart device screen to direct the Phantom 4 in that direction. Flight time increases to 28 minutes, which is 25% more than the Phantom 3 Professional.
Mark Brandon Smith was filming in Uganda when the headmaster of a school there asked him to give the kids a show with the drone. Watch the reaction from the kids as he flew the DJI Phantom 3 Professional for a short flight.
The SkyWall 100 from U.K.-based OpenWorks Engineering fires projectiles at drones from a shoulder-mounted compressed air launcher. The Skywall locks on the drone, tracks the drone’s flight path, calculates an intercept trajectory, and fires a cannister with a net.
“Polivation” policy briefing, UAS registration update, multicopters crash in Seattle, charges of misrepresenting UAS to the US Government, Google and Facebook want to be ISPs, and the tower industry looks ahead to UAS.
David tells us about the policy briefing he attended where panelists addressed issues of “polivation,” the intersection of policy making and innovation. Held at the City Club of Washington (D.C.) on November 12, 2015, the event was moderated by Gloria Story Dittus, chairman of Story Partners, a leading strategic communications firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. The panelists were:
“The discussion focused on developing and recommending a registration process, how to prove the UAS is registered and how to mark a UAS. The discussion about the registration process focused on the type of system that should be built and the type of information that should be collected.”
“The group focused on reaching a consensus on a recommended process for registration. The discussions included how an operator might prove a UAS is registered, how the aircraft would be marked, and how to use the registration process to encourage or require UAS operators to become educated on basic safety rules. The group also continues to gather data and analyze which types of UAS would need to be registered and which would not. The Task Force will now finalize its recommendations for delivery to the FAA Administrator by November 20.”
Recall that in June, a drone crashed into a building and struck a woman in the head. The operator has been charged with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor charge with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. The Seattle City Attorney’s Office said the charge is not because it was a drone, but because of the actions taken with the drone.
Drones were a topic at the Web Summit show in Dublin. Chief inspector Nick Aldworth of the Metropolitan Police and Ralph James of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) agreed that Ireland needs a drone registry for security and privacy protection reasons.
A motion has been filed in civil court alleging that Florida company Prioria Robotics misrepresented its Maveric UAS, a bird-like, portable, fixed-wing UAV that can be launched by a single-person. According to Prioria, the Maveric is capable of autonomous operation, weighs 2.6 pounds, with a 45-60 minute endurance. The Prioria website describes military, public safety, and commercial applications.
Prioria has won contracts with the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, NASA, and other federal agencies. The Defense Logistics Agency paid $240,000 per Maveric system. UAS vendor and Maveric retailer Condor Aerial says the specs are inaccurate and Prioria is charging military-grade prices for what is essentially a hobby drone.
Both Facebook and Google want to provide Internet service to the 57% of the world’s population that isn’t online. Facebook has built the Aquila 1 in England and sent it to an undisclosed location for testing. It’s propeller-driven by four solar-powered motors and made of foam covered with carbon fiber. Google has a drone-based project, but isn’t providing a lot of details. They also have the balloon-based Project Loon.
The National Association of Tower Erectors established an Unmanned Aerial Systems Committee to monitor trends, regulatory concerns, and to make recommendations to NATE about best practices for drone use in the tower industry.
In the following video, host Joey Jackson of Cell Tower News talks with founding members of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Committee, Phil Larsen, President of Telecommunications at HAZON Solutions and Jim Goldwater, Senior Vice President at Bob Lawrence & Associates, Inc.
Video of the Week
Watch World’s First Jet-Powered, 3D Printed UAV Top 150 Mph!
NASA and the state of Virginia are working together on a plan to build a 3,000 foot runway for drones on Wallops Island. This UAS test range is envisioned to support commercial, government, and academic users.
According to Aviation Week, the FAA’s Rich Swayze says the Agency expects as many as one million UAVs to be sold during this year’s holiday season. That’s a lot of opportunity for misuse of unmanned aircraft.
The congressionally mandated deadline for the FAA to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System was Sept. 30, 2015. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and 28 others sent a letter [PDF] to the FAA, stating in part:
“While the FAA has hit some milestones in the integration process, it has yet to finalize small UAS rules, let alone facilitate the full integration of UAS that Congress contemplated in 2012. The increasing number of businesses applying for Section 333 exemptions demonstrates the pent-up demand for commercial UAS operations and the immediate need for a regulatory framework.”
“In the absence of regulations, American businesses and innovators are left sitting on the sidelines or operating under a restrictive exemption process.”
“On behalf of businesses across a wide range of industry sectors in the United States, we urge the FAA to use all available means to finalize the small UAS rules immediately without any further delays and move ahead with the next regulatory steps on the path for integrating all UAS into the NAS. Once this happens, we will have an established framework for UAS operations that will do away with the case-by-case system of approvals, reducing the barriers to commercial UAS operations. And importantly, having more trained commercial operators will create a culture of safety that helps deter careless and reckless behavior.”
Interviews from UAS Industry Days
We recorded a number of interviews at the NUAIR Alliance UAS Test Site, including these two about testing done at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York:
Manager of Flight Test Operations, Aurora Flight Sciences. The Centaur (DA 42) optionally piloted aircraft was tested previously at Griffiss for their unmanned flight test campaign.
A computer scientist at Quanterion working with AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) and two Desert Hawk III UAVs from Lockheed Martin doing collision avoidance testing in the “triangle” at Griffiss. Quanterion has also developed simulation software that evaluates the interactions of manned and unmanned aircraft in shared airspace.
An Aurora Flight Sciences Centaur was flown over the New York UAS test site from Griffiss International Airport. The Centaur is an Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) based on the Diamond DA42 twin engine airplane. It becomes the first large-scale fixed wing unmanned aircraft to fly at an FAA-approved test site.
Aurora CEO John Langford believes that unmanned aircraft will ultimately make aviation safer, and we may some day see passenger flights with aircraft like the Centaur. The Aurora website has a video of the flight.
A team led by NASA is testing a sense and avoid system using the Ikhana UAV, a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Predator B that was acquired by NASA in 2006. Testing in June included 23 encounters with a Beech C90 King Air acting as the intruder. Besides NASA, the team includes General Atomics, the FAA, and Honeywell.
The current test phase includes validation with the Ikhana of sensor, trajectory, and other simulation models. Other tests will utilize a Lockheed S-3B Viking jet from NASA’s Glenn Research Center acting as a high-speed piloted surrogate aircraft.
A drone crashed into a building during a parade in Seattle, then fell and struck a woman in the head. Unconscious, she collapsed into her boyfriend’s arms. The drone was turned over to police, as were a physical description and photographs of the man believed to be the pilot. The drone was described as costing about $1,200 and weighing about two pounds.
Princess Aliyah Pandolfi is founder of the Kashmir World Foundation, established in 2008 to improve the lives of people and animals worldwide. Their projects create healthy habitats for humans and wildlife, and emphasize education, vocational training, job creation programs, and endangered species protection.