Tag Archives: FAA

UAV167 UAS as a Subscription Service

A UAS service for public safety agencies, ScanEagle goes to the Smithsonian, testing drone strikes on airliners, NASA tests BVLOS, maritime drone tests, a new sense and avoid sensor, and FAA outreach.

Aeryon SkyRanger UAS

Aeryon SkyRanger UAS

News

Aeryon Introduces Flexible UAS Subscription Solution for Law Enforcement at IACP 2016

Aeryon Labs, Inc. is offering UAS services to qualified public safety agencies on a monthly subscription basis. Announced at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference and exhibition, the service includes the Aeryon SkyRanger UAS, Program Launch and Support Services, Assured Operational Availability, Investment Protection, and Secure, Remote Distribution of Video and Imagery.

Insitu Donates ScanEagle UAS to Smithsonian Air & Space Museum; Ryan Hartman Comments

ScanEagle N202SE will go on display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Boeing subsidiary Insitu donated the ScanEagle that was the first drone operated beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in a commercial mission in the U.S. National Airspace System.

UK government to test drone safety by deliberating crashing UAVs into passenger aeroplanes

The Department of Transport (DoT), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have been ordered to begin tests to learn what happens when a typical consumer quadcopter strikes a commercial passenger jet.

NASA Conducts ‘Out of Sight’ Drone Tests in Nevada

As part of NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) traffic management [PDF] (or UTM) research platform, the Agency is testing drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). NASA will now offer the capabilities to all FAA test sites for further validation and assessment.

Maritime drones have a long voyage ahead before they become commonplace

Self-sailing boats experience a complex operating environment. Unmanned water taxis, or “Roboats,” will be tested next year in Amsterdam’s canals.

Canadian Skies Abuzz – The Regulation of Drones and UAVs in Canadian Airspace

In 2015, Transport Canada issued a Notice of Proposed Amendment to its UAV regulations, and the organization it is now finalizing the proposed regulations. Publication for formal comment is expected in Spring 2017.

Quantum film sensor stops delivery drones crashing into things

InVisage Technologies has developed QuantumFilm™ sensors that allow small drones to sense and avoid obstacles. The sensor’s photosensitive layer uses quantum dots and has five times the light sensing capability of conventional CMOS image sensors. The new sensor design “can rapidly detect obstacles up to 20 metres away, using a technique called structured light.” Projected “laser dots… are distorted by any object they strike, allowing the sensor to infer the location and distance of obstacles ahead.”

Education Key to Understanding FAA Drone Regulations

As part of the FAA’s outreach to drone users, an educational webinar was produced in conjunction with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

Video of the Week

UAS Conference – 2 Races – Cape May, NJ

Mentioned

Northern Light Aerial Images from photographer Mark Fink.

Drones being used to zero in on pests in vineyards and orchards

 

 

 

 

 

UAV152 Teaching Teachers How to Teach Students About Drones

A workshop to teach educators how to introduce drones to students, Flirtey is in the news again with another package delivery milestone, and a report on the Hogan Lovells sUAS Part 107 webinar.

Guest

Teachers Take FlightPrincess Aliyah Pandolfi updates us on the exciting projects being undertaken by the Kashmir World Foundation. We last spoke with Aliyah when we covered the DaVinci Build-a-Drone workshop in Episode 124. In order to create a more sustainable program and bring this highly successful STEM program to a broader audience, this special workshop was created for educators who can then teach students at their schools and universities.

The first educator workshop is July 11-15, 2016 at Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia. Registration deadline is July 8, 2016. Visit www.kashmirworldfoundation.org for more information.

Aliyah and David

Aliyah Pandolfi and David Vanderhoof

Aliyah also explains a new project to monitor sea turtle activity with MiSHELL drones. To conduct their research, biologists must painstakingly locate sea turtle tracks on the beach and follow them to the nests. Kashmir World Foundation has partnered with Georgia Southern University at St. Catherines Island to discover how sUAS could be used to greatly increase the efficiency of the process.

In addition, Aliyah is conducting a private workshop this summer for girls and technology. This is sponsored by Eagle Ray, a woman-owned business specializing in strategic transformation services.

 

News

Flirtey Conducts First U.S. Ship-to-Shore Drone Delivery

Flirtey and a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine doctor have successfully completed the first ship-to-shore drone delivery in the U.S. on the New Jersey coastline. This was at the invitation of Field Innovation Team (FIT), a disaster preparedness non-profit. Guests from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) attended as part of the Drones in Disasters “Do Tank.”

The FAA and DOT Just Released the Small UAS Rule: Will Your Company be Ready?

This Hogan Lovells webinar held June 27, 2016, reviewed the Part 107 commercial sUAS rule and discussed the implications for you and your business. You can watch a replay of the Part 107 Small UAS Rule Webinar, or view the Hogan Lovells custom Part 107 Table of Contents, which contains links to corresponding sections in the rule.

As a related resource, the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) is the web-based certification/rating application that takes you through the FAA’s airman application process. Remote Pilot certificates for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) will come to IACRA in late August 2016.

UAV151 Part 107: Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

FAAThe DOT and FAA released the rule that finalizes the February 2015 NPRM titled Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. That NPRM proposed operating and certification requirements for sUAS to operate for non-hobby and non-recreational purposes. To this point, those operations were allowed via Section 333 exemptions, COAs, and special airworthiness certificates. This rule now takes over and adds a new part 107 to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR).

 

Press Release – DOT and FAA Finalize Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems [PDF]

In this episode, we provide a summary of the major provisions of Part 107, including:

  • Operational Limitations
  • “Remote Pilot in Command” certification and responsibilities
  • Initial and recurrent aeronautical knowledge tests
  • See-and-avoid and visibility requirements
  • The “Visual Observer”
  • Aircraft Requirements
  • Model Aircraft
  • Transporting Property for Compensation
  • International Operations and Foreign-Owned Aircraft
  • Public Aircraft Operations
  • Moored Balloons, Kites, Amateur Rockets, and Unmanned Free Balloons
  • Micro UAS
  • The preflight briefing
  • Flight termination system
  • External load and dropping objects
  • Requirement for English language proficiency

In other news:

Unanimous “Not Guilty” Verdict in Los Angeles’ First Criminal Drone Use Trial

Arvel Chappell III challenged the constitutionality of the charges brought against him by the City of Los Angeles. Chappell claimed the municipal anti-drone ordinance is preempted by federal law. The jury unanimously agreed.

The FAA and DOT Just Released the Small UAS Rule: Will Your Company be Ready?

Part 107 webinar for Monday, June 27, 2016. Topics covered will include:

Differences between the Final Rule and what the FAA initially proposed in the NPRM;
Timeframe for implementation of the new rule;
Implications for Section 333 Exemption / COA Holders;
Operator certification/pilot certificate requirements;
Flights near and over people;
ATC approvals to operate in certain classes of airspace;
Visual line-of-sight requirements;
Vehicle design and airworthiness certification;   
Part 107 exemption process; and
Upcoming FAA rulemaking and next steps moving forward.

 

 

UAV147 Drones That Perch on Walls

The FAA tests a drone detection system at JFK and releases registration data, drone-on-drone refueling demonstrated, a drone that can perch on walls, a new UAS risk management course, and a review of a guide to drones.

Stanford Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory

Rotorcraft perching, recovery, and takeoff

News

FAA Tests FBI Drone Detection System at JFK

The FAA conducted tests of the effectiveness of an FBI UAS detection system at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York. Five different rotorcraft and fixed wing UAS participated in about 40 separate tests. Also involved in the tests were the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice, Queens District Attorney’s Office, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Griffiss International Airport test site in Rome, NY, provided expertise in planning the individual tests as well as the flight commander for the tests and two of the UAS used.

FAA Releases Drone Registration Location Data

In response to a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the FAA released a spreadsheet showing the number of UAS registrations by country, state/province/region, city, and postal code. Almost 40,000 entries for “Hobbyist” registrations, and nearly 5,000 “Non-Hobbyist” registrations. Names and addresses of registrants are not part of this database, and will only be made available by registration number.

Heatmap of hobbyist UAS registrations, courtesy AirMap

Heatmap of hobbyist UAS registrations

Heatmap of non-hobbyist UAS registrations, courtesy AirMap

Heatmap of non-hobbyist UAS registrations

We’d like to thank Airmap.com for providing the heat maps. Find the AirMap for Drones app in the iTunes store and use it to access low-altitude airspace advisories, create flights, file digital notices, manage aircraft, and more.

Now drones can go on and on: Unmanned aircraft refuel autonomously in MID-AIR, meaning they can carry out longer missions

Chinese researchers have developed a method of autonomous aerial refueling where the “tanker” uses cameras to determine the position of the “receiver.” The tanker then flies to the receiving drone and refuels it through a boom.

Microspines Make It Easy for Drones to Perch on Walls and Ceilings

Quadrotors have limited flight duration, so the ability to “perch” or land for extended periods of time would be beneficial, particularly for applications where the operator wants to collect data over time. Stanford’s Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory has been working on perching technology that would allow a small drone to land on a wall using an opposing gripping system.

Video of the Week

The Flying Scotsman crossing the Forth Bridge 15.5.16 Filmed by drone!

Peter Keith captured the Flying Scotsman crossing the Forth Bridge after a 10-year restoration project. Shot using a DJI Inspire 1 X5r Drone.

Mentioned

Online Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems Risk Management

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announces a new 8-week on-line course which discusses risk management as it relates to UAS, and also covers international efforts at addressing that risk. Taught by Dr. Sarah Nillson, our guest on Episode 111.

The Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

Join David and Max June 18, 2016, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia for a day of full immersion in both manned and unmanned aviation.

Book Review

The Complete Guide to Drones: whatever your budget

David reviews this 144 page paperback by Adam Juniper and finds it to be a valuable resource. Author Juniper is a long-time R/C and drone flier, has produced many YouTube videos, and he has worked as a professional video producer.

 

 

UAV146 The FAA Creates, Permits, and Rescinds

The FAA created an advisory committee, permits educational institutions to fly UAS, and rescinded a proposed website for collecting reports of bad drone behaviour. UPS and Zipline partner for drone delivery of medical packages, and more interviews from the Drone Dealer Expo.

Zipline International

Zipline International medical package delivery drone

News

FAA Administrator Makes Major Drone Announcements

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta made two significant announcements at the AUVSI annual conference in New Orleans. Another advisory committee is being formed to provide advice on unmanned aircraft integration issues. Huerta said, “Input from stakeholders is critical to our ability to achieve that perfect balance between integration and safety. We know that our policies and overall regulation of this segment of aviation will be more successful if we have the backing of a strong, diverse coalition.”

Huerta also announced that students can operate UAS for educational and research purposes without going through the Section 333 process. This allows educational institutions to conduct activities that have been restricted in the past.

UPS-backed Rwandan blood deliveries show drones’ promise, hurdles

The UPS Foundation announced a partnership with Zipline, a California­-based robotics company, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to “explore using drones to transform the way life-saving medicines like blood and vaccines are delivered across the world.” The UPS Foundation has awarded an $800,000 grant to support the initial launch of this initiative in Rwanda using Zipline fixed-wing drones.

Zipline International, Inc. is a robotics company that works with governments to provide access to medical products at the last mile. Zipline is supported by investors such as Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Subtraction Capital, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Stanford University.

UPDATE: FAA Withdraws Request for Drone Reports Dubbed Witchhunt By Many

Congress has directed the FAA to “assess the flight behavior of [drones] and enable the reporting of [drone] sightings that cause public concern for safety, national security, and/or privacy.” In response, the FAA planned to launch a website to collect “airborne and ground based observations by the public of drone behavior that they consider suspicious or illegal.”

Now, however, the FAA has withdrawn the plan [PDF], citing that the proposal “contained errors, and needs further clarification.”

Drone Dealer Expo Interviews

More interviews by Tim Trott of Southern Helicam from the Expo:

David Alamillo, Chief Pilot and Flight Operations Manager, Farm Solutions, which manages sensor output for agricultural applications, and integrates with drone manufacturers

Mark Manson, Consumer Experience Lead for Academy of Model Aeronautics

Videos of the Week

Max and @dronemama Fly Away Dronie

This “fly away dronie” of Max Flight and @dronemama was taken by Hover Solutions, LLC at the 2016 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds, West Friendship, Maryland. Hover Solutions was at the Festival with their DJI Inspire 1 to film the festival for the organizers.

Hover Solutions provides aerial photography and video for clients, UAV education, and industrial applications such as orthomosaic mapping and multisensor scanning services, including 3D modeling and NDVI overlays.

Hover Solutions will be exhibiting at the 2016 Howard County Fair, August 6-13, 2016, at the Howard County Fairground in West Friendship, Maryland. They’ll have a booth next to the main building. Stop by and say hello!

Clash of epochs: Drone speared at history festival in central Russia

A drone that was filming a historical reenactment in Russia was taken down by a spear thrown by a man dressed as an ancient Russian warrior. How often do you see that?

UAV144 UAS Traffic Management (UTM) Research Platform

A milestone for the UTM research platform, controlling drones with brain waves, FAA approval for night flying, rules for sUAS get one step closer, more from the Drone Dealer Expo, and a Flirtey goes into the Smithsonian.

Flirtey founder and CEO Matthew Sweeny

Flirtey founder and CEO Matthew Sweeny

News

NASA Marks Success for Most Complex Drone Traffic Management Test Yet at FAA Test Sites

A three-hour field test of NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research platform included 24 drones flying in all six FAA UAS test sites. Operators planned operations, entered flight plans,  and used a variety of aircraft and software. Up to 22 drones were operated simultaneously. The UTM research platform checked for conflicts, approved or rejected the flight plans, and notified users of constraints. This Technical Capability Level One test addressed rural UAS operations within line-of-sight.

University of Florida held the world’s first brain-controlled drone race

Sixteen pilots at the University of Florida used a brain-computer interface (BCI) to control DJI Phantoms down a 10-yard course. Each pilot was calibrated with electroencephalogram headsets measuring neuron activity, which was then bound to the controller for flight.

Nocturnal UAV ops approved

Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance has become the first commercial drone operator to be granted approval by the FAA to conduct UAV operations at night. Tremco plans to inspect buildings at night for energy leaks, rooftop damage, deteriorating façades, safety issues, etc. In partnership with Toronto-based Industrial SkyWorks, they’ve developed the SkyBEAM (Building Envelope Aerial Mapping) UAV using an Aeryon Skyranger quadcopter with HD video and infrared cameras.

Big News: Small UAS Rule at OIRA for Final Review

Law firm Hogan Lovells reports that “the FAA has sent the Small UAS NPRM to the White House for a final interagency review.” The Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) rule must go through a review process at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the White House. OIRA received the FAA’s Small UAS rule on April 20, 2016. Their review period averages 53 days.

Interview with Drone Nerds from Drone Dealer Expo

Continuing with Tim Trott’s interviews recorded at Drone Dealer Expo, we bring you his conversation with Lance Knowles from Drone Nerds, Incorporated, a distributor for brands like DJI and Monster X heavylift craft for commercial applications. Tim and Lance talk about the impact of regulations, the responsibilities of drone manufacturers and dealers, knowledge exams and check rides for drone operators, and measuring commercial drone operator proficiency.

Mentioned

The Flirtey drone used to make the first FAA-approved delivery in the U.S. has been accepted into the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. See recreational and home-built aircraft as well as classic automobiles. Enjoy presentations, demonstrations, special tours, and hands-on activities for all ages.

 

UAV141 A New Drone Alliance

The Drone Manufacturers AllianceThe Drone Manufacturers Alliance is formed, a Digital Notice and Awareness System for airports starts, the Micro UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee report is published, a satellite navigation system competition begins, and a new facial-recognition drone is available.

News

Drone coalition splits as DJI, GoPro faction quits

The Small UAV Coalition was formed to advocate “for law and policy changes to permit the operation of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) beyond the line-of-sight, with varying degrees of autonomy, for commercial, consumer, recreational and philanthropic purposes.”

Now DJI, GoPro, 3DR, and Parrot have left the Coalition to form The Drone Manufacturers Alliance to focus on small drone and consumer issues. The Alliance hasn’t yet developed official policy statements, but they do say they the Alliance “… will serve as the voice for drone manufacturers and our customers across civilian, governmental, recreational, commercial, nonprofit and public safety applications. We will advocate for policies that promote innovation and safety, and create a practical and responsible regulatory framework.”

Furthermore, “The Drone Manufacturers Alliance believes a carefully balanced regulatory framework requires input from all stakeholders and must recognize the value and necessity of continued technological innovation. By highlighting innovation and emphasizing education, we intend to work with policymakers to ensure drones continue to be safely integrated into the national airspace.”

AirMap and AAAE Launch UAS Notice System

AirMap and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) have released the Digital Notice and Awareness System (D-NAS), designed to allow airport operators to be aware of drone flights in the area. D-NAS lets UAS operators transmit encrypted digital flight notices through a mobile device app to the airport’s operations center. The “flight plan” shows up on an airport computer with the planned location of the flight, radius, height, and duration.

The AP has learned a government-sponsored panel is backing standards that could allow commercial drones

The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (the “ARC”) has delivered its report on proposed rules for flying over populated areas. The stated objective of the ARC was “to consider recommendations for a performance-based standard that would allow for micro UAS to be operated over people who are not directly participating in the operation of the UAS or under a covered structure,” which would ultimately contribute to an enforceable rule imposed by the FAA.

The Committee report Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC):  ARC Recommendations Final Report, [PDF] proposes to divide small UAS into four categories:

Under Category 1, a small UAS may operate over people if the weight (including accessories/payload, e.g., cameras) is 250 grams or less. The ARC believes that the level of risk of injury posed by this category of UAS is so low that no performance standards and no operational restrictions beyond those imposed by the proposed part 107 are necessary.

Under Categories 2, 3, and 4, a small UAS may operate over people if it does not exceed the impact energy threshold specified for each category, as certified by the manufacturer using industry consensus test methods, and if its operator complies with operational restrictions specified for each category. Because the level of risk increases between Categories 2, 3, and 4, the performance-based standards and operational restrictions are scaled-up in each category to mitigate the increased risks.

Category 2 applies to the larger multirotor UAS that are common for recreational and commercial drones. The UAS may operate over people if the manufacturer certifies to the FAA that the UAS does not, in the most probable failure modes, exceed the typical or likely impact energy threshold, and if it complies with industry consensus performance standards. The operator must also comply with the operator instruction manual, must maintain minimum set-off distances of 20 feet above people’s heads, or 10 feet laterally away from people, and may not operate so close to people as to create an undue hazard to those people.

Category 3 applies to UAS in commercial applications where the small number of people over which it might fly are all part of the commercial activity. The operation must be conducted over a closed or restricted-access work site with the permission of the site’s owner or operator. Overflight of people is limited to those who are transient or incidental to the operation.

Category 4 applies to small UAS that may operate over people, including flights over crowds or dense concentrations of people not included in Category 3. The manufacturer of the UAS must certify that the UAS does not, in the most probable failure modes, exceed the typical or likely impact energy threshold, and the UAS must comply with industry consensus performance standards. Significantly, the operation must be conducted in compliance with a documented, risk mitigation plan, which was developed and adopted in accordance with industry consensus standards for conducting risk mitigation.

For commercial operations, the Air Line Pilots Association and helicopter and crop dusting industry representatives wanted an aviation knowledge test administered by the FAA and a background check from the TSA. However, most Committee members wanted only an online knowledge test.

European Satellite Navigation Competition – Awarding Galileo Enabled Applications

The European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) is said to be the largest international competition for the commercial use of satellite navigation. Thorsten Rudolph, the CEO of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen and initiator of the competition said, “We believe civilian drones have enormous potential in connection with the ESNC. We want to focus even more on the topic this year to promote the foundation of more visionary companies in the surrounding future market.”

The submission phase for services, products, and business innovations runs from 1 April to 30 June 2016. Visit the European Satellite Navigation Competition website for more information.

Facial recognition drone gives your selfie stick wings

People are obsessed with selfies these days. “Dronies” are the next technological step, and now we have the $349 ROAM-e drone from IoT Group that uses facial recognition technology to take self-portraits. The ROAM-e will follow you in the air for up to 20 minutes, fly within 25m of you, and always stay in constant view.

Images of the Week

Aerial views of fairy tale castles from around the world

Images of restored ancient fortresses as captured by drones.

Mentioned

CASA develops new regulations for drone operation

What the SUAS Industry Really Thinks about U.S. Drone Regulations

A five-minute survey for drone pilots.

UAV140 Package Delivery by Drone Takes Another Step Forward

Flirtey package delivery droneAn autonomous package delivery drone, blanket COA altitude limit raised, FAA forecasts UAS sales, in U.S., states eye drone applications, NASA and AFRL developing a fully autonomous UAS, JPL applies Mars sensor technology to earth-bound drone, and the Pentagon will pair manned and unmanned jets.

News

First US autonomous, urban drone delivery in Nevada

Flirtey package delivery droneIn Episode 59 we reported that Flirtey was conducting package delivery tests in Australia. Flirtey now says they have successfully completed the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved, urban drone delivery in the United States, in an uninhabited residential setting in Hawthorne, Nevada.

The company successfully used a drone to deliver a package that included bottled water, emergency food, and a first aid kit. The six-rotor drone flew itself along a predetermined delivery route and lowered the package at a precise drop-off location. A Flirtey pilot and several visual observers were on standby during the delivery as a backup to the autonomous system but were never needed.

This test was completed through a partnership with the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. Both partners are also working with NASA to develop a low-altitude air traffic management system. Additionally, Flirtey has partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site.

FAA Doubles “Blanket” Altitude for Many UAS Flights

After conducting a risk analysis, the FAA has decided to raise the blanket altitude authorization for Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators. Previously, the nationwide Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) limited such flights to 200 feet. The new COA policy [PDF] allows commercial use to 400 feet anywhere in the country, other than in restricted airspace or where the FAA prohibits UAS operations.

Rupprecht Law’s In-Depth Analysis of the New 400ft Blanket COA for Commercial Drone Operators

Attorney Jonathan Rupprecht describes how the original blanket authorization was written to avoid a COA choke-point. However, many radio towers are between 200 and 400 feet tall, and each of these towers needed a new, 400 foot site-specific COA. This bogged down the system tremendously.

The FAA estimates that the new blanket COA will lessen the need for individual COAs by 30 to 40 percent. The blanket COA also addresses the inconsistency where recreational drone operators can fly up to 400 feet while commercial operators were restricted to 200 feet unless they obtained another COA.

Other changes to the blanket COA include see-and-avoid requirements, reporting involving certain accidents/mishaps involving UAS operations, ATC special provisions, and flight planning.

The Future of Commercial Drone Use

The latest FAA forecast shows hobbyist and commercial UAS unit sales growing from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020. Hobbyist purchases were 1.9 million in 2016 and the forecast is 4.3 million by 2020. Commercial sales were 600,000 in 2016 and could grow to 2.7 million by 2020.

The FAA forecast for the top five commercial drone markets:

  • Industrial Inspection: 42%
  • Real Estate/Aerial Photography: 22%
  • Agriculture: 19%
  • Insurance 15%
  • Government 2%

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to receive $1M in state funding for drone program

State funding for a drone pilot program at the Palm Beach Florida County Sheriff’s Office should allow them to use unmanned aircraft for “search and rescue, disaster assessment and assistance, interdiction of drug and human-trafficking activities, and situational awareness of a person whose life is in imminent danger.”

Michigan testing drones for bridge inspections

A survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials shows that 33 states have studied or used drones, develop drone policies, or aided in drone research.

Michigan transportation officials are considering assessing bridge decks, traffic monitoring, inspecting confined spaces, and will conduct a two-year study. Minnesota tested a drone to help conduct safety inspections of bridges. Vermont is studying the use of drones to monitor river flooding and assist with road work. Massachusetts has been looking at the pros and cons of drone use.

NASA’s Traveler To Demo ‘Trustworthy’ UAS Autonomy

FireFLY6NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) hope to demonstrate the Traveler UAS that can autonomously plan, launch, navigate, and refuel itself. The FAA supports the idea and will use data from the program to help set future standards for UAS operations. A Traveler project demonstration flight outside of restricted airspace is planned for later in 2016. An autonomous mission without a safety pilot could take place in 2017. The demonstrations will use a modified BirdsEyeView Aerobotics FireFLY6 VTOL UAV, named “Elissa.”

Mini NASA Methane Sensor Makes Successful Flight Test

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has successfully flight-tested a miniature, highly sensitive methane gas sensor onboard a small quadcopter. With application for pipeline inspection, the sensor is similar to the one JPL developed for use on Mars.

Pentagon touts “Loyal Wingman” for combat jets

Deputy defense secretary Robert Work says that the air force will pair unmanned F-16s with F-35s in future battles. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is developing the autonomy algorithms needed to control the unmanned fighter jets. These algorithms would be hosted in line-replaceable units and thus, could easily be transferred between aircraft.

Video of the Week

Beachy Head in 4k by drone

Filmed at an area called Beachy Head, in Sussex, on the south coast of England. This scenic area is very similar to the white cliffs of Dover.

Mentioned

Robotics: Aerial Robotics, University of Pennsylvania

An aerial robotics course offered through Coursera. It focuses on the flight dynamics and controls for quadcopters. Enrollment is free.

UAV Propulsion Tech Representing DST Controls to Market their Gyro-Stabilized EO/IR Systems and Thermal Imagers in the US and Canada

UAV Propulsion Tech has signed a reseller agreement with DST Control to market their lightweight, high performance gyro-stabilized electro-optical systems, and small, lightweight thermal imagers into the US unmanned vehicle and manned aircraft markets. UAV Propulsion Tech is a U.S. company that markets German, Canadian, Australian and now also Swedish technology into the North American UAV market. This includes propulsion, autopilot, servo/actuator, and rescue/recovery parachute solutions.

UAV Operations: Preparing to meet the anticipated FAA knowledge test requirements for UAS Operator and/or Pilot UAS Rating (14CFR§107)

Tim Trott has written an e-book study manual in anticipation of the written test requirement for UAV operators that is included in current FAA authorization legislation. The book includes all 11 of the areas listed in the NPRM/14 CFR107 and a 50 question practice test with answer key. This material can provide preparation for the FAA test that may be coming.

New Online Registration for Commercial UAVs

Tim also tells us that as of March 31, 2016, there is a checkbox for commercial registration at registermyuas.faa.gov. Once the process is completed, a certificate number is assigned, and a certificate of registration issued for each UAS registered with the company. The new online system provides a certificate ID number instead of an N number. Those who want an N number must use the paper process.

UAV138 Blanket Drone Approval for New Section 333 Exemptions

Aerotain Skye droneA significant change for Section 333 holders, a carrier-based aerial-refueling system, mapping with UAVs, a drone that romps in the crowd, using drones for health care, extrapolating birdstrike data to drone strikes, an unmanned underwater vehicle, and a fuel cell-powered drone.

News

UAS: blanket approval granted for 1,120 drones . . . But only going forward

In the past, Section 333 exemption applicants had to list the makes and models of all UAS intended for use. If an exemption holder later wanted to fly a different UAS, an amendment was required. Now, however, newly granted exemptions say there is a:

“… list of Approved Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) under Section 333. The list, which is updated monthly, is posted at www.regulations.gov under docket number FAA-2007-3330. The petitioner is also authorized to operate any UAS on that list, when weighing less than 55 pounds including payload while this exemption is valid.”

The current list dated March 4, 2016 “Approved Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Make/Model under Section 333 – March 4, 2016 (Corrected)” [PDF] has 1,120 UAV makes and models, from the “3D Robotics Aero” to the “Zeta Science Buffalo FX79.”

The FAA says, “It includes UAS readily available for purchase as well as those built by petitioners which are not available for purchase from retailers.”

US Navy descoping stealth requirement for Stingray tanking UAV

The Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program was originally envisioned to create an unmanned intelligence and strike asset. The Pentagon has now changed the program into the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS) to create an unmanned carrier-based aerial tanker called the MQ-25 Stingray.

3D Robotics partners with Sony on a drone that can map the world in 3D

3D Robotics is partnering with Autodesk and Sony on a project that uses a modified Solo drone to scan a location and create a 3D map. The model or map would be uploaded while the drone is in the air, which would then be available to others offsite. The system uses the soon-to-be-released Sony UMC-R10C camera, and will come with a Sony tablet preloaded with Autodesk’s FORGE software. 3D Robotics says it is planning to introduce a multispectral and thermal camera, hardware specialized for scanning agricultural sites, chemical plants, and oil rigs.

Drone meets blimp for crowd-friendly UAV

Aerotain had developed the helium-filled Skye drone to be used safely in crowds of people. The 3-meter diameter sphere has four motors to maneuver it almost like a flying eye. The Skye has a two hour flight time, and the rotor blades are not exposed, making it safe to use in a crowd. Applications include audience engagement at events, advertising, and live event HD video streaming.

Using drones to save lives in Malawi

10,000 children died of HIV-related illnesses in Malawi in 2014. There are only eight labs in the country that can test blood, and since many of the children live in remote villages, the samples are often transported by motorbike over dirt tracks. Now, in partnership with Unicef, a drone from California-based Matternet is being used in an experiment to deliver blood samples quickly and autonomously by air.

We talked about Matternet in UAV103 Matternet Tests Autonomous Package Delivery, July 2015 when freight carrier Swiss WorldCargo announced that testing had begun using the Matternet ONE drone for small package delivery.

New Research Suggests the FAA Exaggerates the Threat that Drones Pose to Airlines

Two researchers from George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia wanted to find out if drones really pose a risk to the airspace. So the researchers examined 25 years of data from the FAA’s wildlife strike database and published the results of their study in Do Consumer Drones Endanger the National Airspace? Evidence from Wildlife Strike Data.” Their conclusion:

“Although aircraft collide with birds many thousands of times per year, only a tiny fraction of those collisions result in damage to the aircraft, much less human injuries or deaths. The most serious reported incidents typically involved flocks of large birds. Since the addition of UAS to the airspace is similar in many respects to an increase in the bird population, we conclude that the risk to the airspace caused by small drones (for example, weighing up to 2kg, or 4.41 pounds) flying in solitary formation is minimal.”

Boeing Introduces Long-Endurance UUV, Echo Voyager

Boeing’s 51-foot Echo Voyager is an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that can operate autonomously for months under water. Unlike other UUVs, the Echo Voyager does not require a surface support ship, and it can surface and transmit collected data back to users. Sea trials begin this summer off the California coast.

Video of the Week

Home with my Drone

Watch what happens when a ten-year-old boy is left alone at home and gets a visit from the local law enforcement agency for flying his drone in his own backyard.

Mentioned

Drone flight powered by lightweight hydrogen-producing pellets

A Raptor E1 electric drone made a successful test flight using a fuel cell. Fuel pellets manufactured by Cell Energy are heated to produce hydrogen gas, which runs a fuel cell from by Arcola Energy. For the “makers” out there, Arcola Energy sells 1.5 to 30W Hydrogen Fuel Cell Developer Kits that integrate with the Arduino, mbed, and Raspberry Pi boards.

UAV137 Aurora’s LightningStrike Hybrid-electric X-plane

Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrikeThe 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.

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Aurora Wins Darpa Contract to Build Novel Drone Demonstrator

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.

Aurora’s LightningStrike VTOL X-Plane

Maersk Tankers Claims First Drone Delivery to Ship at Sea

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.

Bipartisan Senate FAA bill shuns Shuster’s ATC proposal

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.”

Drone-Mounted Handgun, Flamethrower Reignite Lawmaker Debate

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.

Proposed Utah legislation would allow cops to shoot down 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’s New Phantom 4 Drone Is Smarter, More Expensive and Available From Apple

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.

Someone thought it would be a good idea to fly a drone at 11,000 ft—it wasn’t

An anonymous YouTuber claims to have flown a modified DJI Phantom 2 to an altitude of 11,000 feet. Not all drone enthusiasts are impressed.

Video of the Week

African kids see drone for the first time!

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.

Mentioned

High-tech ‘bazooka’ fires a net to take down drones

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.

Watch high tech ‘bazooka’ take down a drone Fox News

Watch This Jet Ski Destroy a Drone, and Catch Some Serious Air