An online “junk yard” for UAVs and components, the drone pilot shortage, a UAS detect and avoid display project, UAV airspace integration in the UK, the US Senate version of FAA reauthorization, egg drop drones, LiPo batteries, and the CRACUNS submersible drone.
UK Drone builder Andrew Spaxman founded Drone Junk Yard in January 2015 as a place where enthusiasts could buy, swap, and sell unwanted UAV parts. Starting with a closed, country-specific Facebook group for the UK, Spaxman has expanded to groups for the United States, the EU, Canada, and Australia.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Further Actions Needed to Fully Address Air Force and Army Pilot Workforce Challenges [PDF]. In it, the GAO says the USAF and US Army haven’t implemented all the recommendations made in its 2014 report. These particularly relate to the shortage of pilot instructors and pilots.
The FAA wants to develop a UAS detect and avoid display for unmanned aircraft systems at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Eight pilot volunteers have been selected from the 111th Attack Wing for the project.
FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute research psychologist Kevin Williams said,”Our task in this study is to look at the displays used to provide the pilot with the information that is required for them to remain well clear of other aircraft. Basically, what we’re talking about is the minimum information requirements for those displays.”
The UK wants to permit beyond line of sight UAV operations at all altitudes by 2020, but the Department for Transport (DfT) wants to be sure that regulations are robust and realistic. Paul Cremin, head of UK aviation operational safety and emerging technologies at the DfT said, “This is a disruptive technology changing the way we think about aviation, but we have to be realistic about safety and security.”
In conversations with the public, the dFt found that there is faith in state-controlled UAVs, confidence in most commercial operators, and concern about drone hobbyists. The public expects registration, geo-fencing, age restrictions on use, mandatory insurance, and licensing of retailers.
A full report on the dialogue with the public is to be issued in April, followed by public consultation in June, leading to a UK government strategy on permitting operations later this decade.
The U.S Senate version of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 would establish a kind of “type certification” for UAVs, requiring all small UAS to meet design and production standards within one year. Manufacturers would have to certify compliance. Random production samples would be tested, and manufacturers would provide a sample of the UAV to the FAA for review.
The Senate version also calls for:
- An “aeronautical knowledge and safety test” for operators (including model aircraft pilots). Exempted would be aircraft under .55 pounds, and pilots under 13 years of age who fly under the supervision of an adult who has passed the test.
- FAA to create within 2 years a new operating certificate for unmanned aircraft package delivery operators.
- Nine months for the FAA to establish a rule for micro UAS (under two kilograms, or 4.4 pounds) with no pilot’s certificate requirement
- Nine months to develop standards for UAS operations by institutions of “higher education.” If the FAA misses the deadline, the institutions can operate as model aircraft.
The Impacting Your World Christian Center plans to host Egg Drone Drop events for kids in Cherry Hill and Philadelphia. Thousands of candy-filled eggs will fall from FlexRight Solutions drones.
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In March 2016 at Wales’s Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, a weeklong event was hosted by QinetiQ in partnership with the Welsh Government and Snowdonia Aerospace LLP. They demonstrated how drones could help tackle environmental issues and other commercial challenges. The demonstration consisted of two scenarios; one exploring the use of drones in fisheries protection, and the other in managing the threat to the Welsh coast from erosion and flooding.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, have developed the Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System — or CRACUNS.
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