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FAA proposes $1.9 million penalty against UAS operator, Pathfinder expanded to detect UAS near airports, NAV Canada wants jail time for flying near airports, detect-and-avoid standards on the way, Boeing tests joined wing body UAS, and DARPA working to develop vanishing drones.
The FAA says aerial photography company SkyPan International “conducted 65 unauthorized operations in some of our most congested airspace and heavily populated cities, violating airspace regulations and various operating rules.” Forty-three of the flights flew in restricted Class B airspace near airports.
According to the FAA, SkyPan flew commercial UAS flights over New York City and Chicago between March 21, 2012 and Dec. 15, 2014 without an aircraft airworthiness certificate, registration, or a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization.
In UAS expert: FAA’s proposed $1.9 million fine is necessary, Christina Engh, the chief operating officer for consulting firm UASolutions Group Inc. said the FAA’s actions should serve as a warning to the industry.
On its website, SkyPan says they have been operating safely for 27 years. They operate only over the private property of clients with single rotor aircraft capable of controlled autorotation descent, and “SkyPan robots are repeatedly tested and were inspected by the FAA in August 2013, deemed to be one of the safest UAV operations in the USA.”
Additionally, SkyPan says they “proactively contacted the FAA in 2005, 2008, and 2010 to explore special permitting for its commercial UAS activity, by discussing regulatory and suggested technical parameters with FAA officials in Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C. and in 2015 was awarded a ‘333’ exemption to the FAA’s blanket ban on commercial UAS operation.”
The FAA entered into a Pathfinder agreement with CACI International Inc. to evaluate how the company’s sensor technology can help detect UAS in the vicinity of airports.
The FAA’s UAS Pathfinder initiative creates research partnerships with industry to explore next steps beyond the types of operations described in the sUAS NPRM.
John Mengucci, CACI’s Chief Operating Officer and President of U.S. Operations said, “The agreement provides a proven way to passively detect, identify, and track UAS… and their ground-based operators, in order to protect airspace from inadvertent or unlawful misuse of drones near U.S. airports.”
The FAA will select airports where CACI’s prototype UAS sensor detection system will be evaluated at airports.
Speaking about recreational UAVs flown within 5 miles of airports, NAV Canada president and CEO John Crichton said operators should be subject to criminal penalties. “Why don’t we go out and catch a few people?” he said.
An RTCA Special Committee released interim minimum operational performance standards (MOPS) for the detect-and-avoid system and command-and-control data link. The RTCA is chartered by the FAA to operate Federal advisory committees. It develops minimum performance standards that form the basis for FAA regulatory requirements.
The performance standards don’t apply to sUAS, only to civil UAVs flying to and from Class A controlled airspace (above 18,000 ft.) under instrument flight rules. The MOPS specifies sensors to detect other aircraft and provide operators on the ground with awareness and guidance. It’s run with ADS-B, TCAS, and radar. Release of the final document release is planned for 2016.
Boeing is testing a rigid wing version of a joined-wing UAV. Ultimately, a flexible wing version is planned for long duration surveillance missions.
Under DARPA’s Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program, “degradable” electronic systems physically disappear in a controlled, triggerable manner to prevent them from being captured by enemies. The DARPA Inbound Controlled Air-Releasable Unrecoverable Systems (ICARUS) project builds on VAPR to create drones that disappear after completing their mission.
How? With “polymer panels that sublimate directly from a solid phase to a gas phase, and electronics-bearing glass strips with high-stress inner anatomies that can be readily triggered to shatter into ultra-fine particles after use.”
A multirotor burned on the sidewalk after crashing into two buildings.
The Anti-UAV Defense System (AUDS) jams the communications signal for a drone, making it unresponsive.
Battelle’s DroneDefenderTM is a “rapid-to-use counter-weapon to stop suspicious or hostile drones in flight.”
The Safe Drone Act from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) would make it a crime to fly recklessly near restricted airspace.
Ground crews discovered damage to the airframe protective coating and to the fuel tank during post-flight checks.
With the annual bush-fire season approaching in Australia, authorities there are concerned about people flying drones near bush-fires.