The Test Range Manager of the Warm Springs FAA UAS Test Range joins us as our guest.
Warm Springs FAA UAS Test Range
Liz Stalford is the FAA UAS Test Range Manager for the Warm Springs – University of Alaska, Fairbanks Pan PacificUnmanned Test Range Complex (PPUTRC). The complex is one of six official FAA test sites in the United States. It spans seven climate zones, allowing UAS manufacturers and potential users to test their equipment in the Arctic, the tropics, and arid environments.
Liz is a commercial pilot with multi-engine, seaplane, and instructor ratings. She has HighPerformance, Complex, and Tailwheel endorsements. Liz also has military unmanned aircraft experience providing surrogate MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper close air support to the United States Air Force’s 548th and 549th Combat Training Squadrons during Green Flag pre-deployment exercises.
Previously, Liz was general manager and chief pilot for the manned and unmanned flight departments at ArrowData. That aerospace and data services company specializes in persistent data collection, transmission, analytics, and distribution services.
News network CNN has launched a UAS unit called CNN Aerial Imagery and Reporting (CNN AIR) with two full-time UAS operators. They will provide aerial imagery and reporting for the CNN networks, Turner Broadcasting, and Time Warner.
NASA and the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation (at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi) have created an interconnection security agreement that allows university researchers to directly access NASA’s Ames Research Center and exchange real-time UAS flight data. This advances research for a drone traffic management system that is integrated with manned aviation.
French firm Elistair designs and manufactures tethered stations for small civilian drones. According to the company, applications include persistent aerial surveillance, continuous aerial broadcasting, complex industrial inspection, and traffic monitoring. Two tethered ground stations for drones are available, the Safe-T and ruggedized High-T. The ground stations provide constant data transfer, continuous power, unlimited flight duration, and keeps the multicopter from flying where it shouldn’t.
The Baltimore, Maryland Police Department has acquired a wide area surveillance system developed for military use. The Persistent Surveillance Systems 192-million megapixel camera was purchased privately and given to the city. Due to the half-meter resolution, specific individuals cannot be identified, but their movement can be tracked. Program secrecy and privacy implications are causing some concern.
26th – 27th October 2016, Holiday Inn Kensington Forum, London, UK.
In today’s complex and ever-changing operational environment, the demand for increased situational awareness continues to grow. As a decisive and indispensable tool, air based ISTAR is increasingly relied upon to deliver this capability, allowing commanders to understand the situation on the ground and act accordingly.
Covering direction, collection, process and dissemination, Airborne ISR will thoroughly analyse the intelligence chain and deliberate best practice for the enhancement of ISTAR capability. Drawing on respective nations ISTAR structure, operational feedback and training, to explore the doctrine necessary to develop this vital asset.
The conference will also benefit from the guidance of technical leaders from research and industry, whose insight into the latest platforms, systems and sub-systems will provide greater awareness of existing and future capability.
The 2016 expert speaker panel includes: RAF, UK MoD, Joint Forces Command UK, United States Air Force, French Air Force, German Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Ministry of Defence Spain, Defence Command Denmark, RUSI, NATO, DSTL and many more.
Benefits of Attending:
Hear from those at the heart of air systems operation, development and integration
Deliberate contemporary operational requirements that are shaping capability development
Hear the very latest technological developments from research and industry that are enhancing intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting
Register by 31 August and save £200. By 30 September and save £100.
21-22 September 2016, Angelo by Vienna House, Radlicka 1g, 15000 Prague, Czech Republic.
SMi’s UAV Technology Eastern Europe conference, taking place on 21-22 September 2016 in Prague, will help develop and shape the future capability of Central and Eastern Europe’s UAV and airborne system projects. As many nations are in the early adoption phase of developing Unmanned Aerial Technology and Systems, this is the perfect event for those wishing to get ahead and meet key decision makers for the region’s fastest developing programmes.
With many nations in this region now actively looking for new technologies and solutions to ensure their airspace is both secure and offering vital intelligence to ground operations, you really cannot afford to miss this essential conference.
Register now and join the likes of: Harris, Textron, WB Group, Cybaero, Spacemetric, Ampex Data Systems, Swiss Air Force, German Air Force Command, Swedish Army, US Army, Danish Army, Hungarian National Police, and UAE GHQ.
Expect regional UAV briefings from the following keynote speakers:
Lieutenant Colonel Petr Snajdarek, Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare Branch, Czech MoD
Colonel (ret) Ryszard Szczepanik, General Director, Polish Air Force Institute Of Technology
Lieutenant Colonel Petr Stodola, Associate Professor, Department of Tactics, University of Defence, Czech Republic
Mr. Marko Gruden, Secretary, Directorate of Logistics, Ministry of Defence, Slovenia
Mr. Janek Mägi, Head of Department, Border Policy Department, Estonian Ministry of the Interior
Dr. Wojciech Komorniczak, Director at WB Group and Vice President at Flytronic, WB Group
Mr. Tomas Pustina, Senior Legal Officer, Department of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Transport, Czech Republic
The Australian RMIT University School of Engineering looked at 150 reported civilian drone-related accidents around the world over the past decade. Technical problems caused 64 percent of the accidents.
No sUAS NPRM, “Know Before You Fly” safety campaign, it may be OK to say “drone” now, UAS America Fund proposes rules, drone privacy legislation, ICAO looks at integrating RPAS into the air space, an embarrassing UAS test center first flight, and the MQ-8C Fire Scout takes flight.
Darrell Slaughter, Director of Business Development at the Phoenix, Arizona based Unmanned Vehicle University says “The drone industry cannot afford any mishaps at any time, especially at this stage in the industry’s life cycle. People must realize that many of the UAVs being given as gifts this year are not toys. Many are capable of causing serious injury and damage to property. People will get hurt if these potentially dangerous devices are operated in an unsafe manner.”
The UAS America Fund has filed a petition with the FAA proposing regulations for very small UAS for non-recreational purposes. This incremental regulatory approach is based on a risk analysis of FAA data, and addresses aircraft under 3 pounds and flown under 400 feet at least 5 miles from an airport.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV from West Virginia has proposed a law that would require the Federal Trade Commission to set up privacy websites for all commercial UAV operators where privacy policies are posted, including:
Information about the circumstances under which the UAS would be operated
The specific purposes for the images
Data and other identifying information that would be collected
Measures to be taken to anonymize and aggregate the information
Private companies would be prohibited from conducting surveillance on individuals without their explicit prior consent.
At the invitation of the FAA, representatives from ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) visited the U.S. on a fact-finding mission. They wanted to look at how the U.S. is integrating manned aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). ICAO has a technical body called the RPAS Panel made up of almost 100 international state and industry experts.
The hand-launched “Magpie” was to be the first UAV officially flown from the Nevada test site, and the press were there to capture the event. The Governor even made a speech. The moment came, Magpie was tossed into the air, and then immediately fell to the ground. The problem was attributed to an electrical controller issue.
The FAA granted Virginia Polytechnic Institute seven Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) for two-years. This is the last of the six FAA UAS test sites now operational.
Virginia Tech has the lead for the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP), which has members from academia, the government, industry, economic development agencies, and non-profit organizations in Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland.
The UAVs covered under the COAs are: Smart Road Flyer, eSPAARO (the electric Small Platform for Autonomous Aerial Research Operations), Aeryon Sky Ranger, MANTRA 2, Sig Rascal, and two AVID EDF-8 micro UAVs.
The University of Maryland (another member of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership) has launched its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site based in St. Mary’s County, close to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aviation Division at Patuxent River and the Naval Air Systems Command headquarters. This site is intended to be a hub for UAS technology and policy issues for the University System of Maryland, as well as government and industry.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service postponed testing at another MAAP member, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, until November. Two endangered migratory bird species there are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act as well as New Jersey law.
To date, only one company has completed testing at the Nevada UAS test site. Conversations are underway with other interested companies, and the Site hopes to be financially self-sufficient by 2015. In the meantime, Nevada is looking at possible revenue from “indoor testing.”
Dutch drone rules are stricter than in other European countries. It takes weeks to receive permission for test flights, and Dutch drone manufacturers fear they will be left behind. New rules are being considered by the Dutch government, but progress is slow.
Much of the land in the Netherlands is below sea level. A series of breakwaters and dikes keep the land from flooding, but need to be monitored and maintained. Doing Inspections with a Microdrones MD4-1000 quadcopter, is a lower cost alternative to a manned aircraft.
An Air Canada Jazz pilot reported a near miss with a possible drone. The plane was still climbing at about 18,000 feet and spotted a “red and white vertical tube with rotor” less than 300 meters above the plane.
NUAIR becomes the fifth FAA UAS test site to receive a COA, DJI introduces a new model, regulations in the EU and Singapore, North Dakota and Yellowstone in the news, businesses embrace UAVs in Charlotte, and how long until we see deliveries by drone.
The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR Alliance) and Griffiss International Airport announced the receipt of their first Certificate of Authorization (COA) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). From the press release:
“The approval of this application clears the way to begin testing of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in New York under the FAA-designated Griffiss International Airport UAS Test Site… Before the first test flights can start, the NUAIR Alliance team will establish an independent safety review board to collect additional information and create a flight plan… Once that process is finished, the NUAIR Alliance-Griffiss team will coordinate a series of test flights on behalf of Cornell Cooperative Extension.”
“The COA allows Cornell Cooperative Extension to fly a UAS manufactured by PrecisionHawk below 400 feet over a farm in western New York. Currently, PrecisionHawk works with clients on a global scale across a variety of industries including agriculture, insurance, oil and gas. For this operation, the Lancaster Hawkeye Mk III, a small fixed-wing aircraft, will carry visual, thermal, multi-spectral and video sensors. These sensors will evaluate field crops like corn, soybeans and wheat, collecting data on conditions like crop growth, insect activity, disease spread, soil conditions and more. This information is critical to advancing the precision agricultural industry which is why this sector is expected to be an early adopter of civil and commercial UAS in the United States and is estimated to comprise 80 percent of the civil and commercial UAS market.”
Like elsewhere, civilian use of UAVs in the EU is growing. So the same questions come up: issues of safety, controls that ensure privacy, and economic benefits. The Lords’ EU subcommittee on Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment has called for submissions to get expert written and oral evidence on this topic. They’ll be looking at standards for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) across the EU. The deadline for submitting evidence is September 19, 2014. The final report in expected March 2015.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is also considering UAV regulations for hobbyists and for commercial operations. There are existing rules for UAVs under the Singapore Air Navigation Order: no operation within five kilometers of an aerodrome, and maximum flight altitude of about 61 meters. But the CAAS wants to determine if additional requirements are needed.
On August 1, two MQ-9 Predator Bs were operated in close proximity in unrestricted airspace. This took place at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, by the 319th Operations Support Squadron. They actually accomplished an additional milestone when a manned private aircraft asked to do a brief runway approach.
Visitors to U.S. National Parks continue to use UAVs to create videos at the Parks, despite the ban announced in June by the National Park Service. Several drone crashes have occurred at Yellowstone National Park, including one where a tourist crashed his camera-equipped multi-copter into the Grand Prismatic hot spring. A park spokesman said they didn’t know if the UAV would damage the 121 foot deep spring, and if they would have to remove it – if they could even find it.
Fearing that the competition might get the jump on them, some Charlotte, North Carolina businesses are using drones for real estate and other aerial footage. One company is operating four drones, and a video production company uses drones to film promotional videos and weddings. The Governor of North Carolina has said he’ll sign legislation for a state licensing system for commercial drones and operators.
Missy Cummings is an associate professor at MIT and Duke University, and is one of the professors who signed the letter to the FAA we talked about last episode. This former Navy fighter pilot wants to use drones for wildlife conservation research. She believes that because of “technical obstacles” such as battery life, security, and integration with air traffic control systems, drone delivery systems are about 10 years away.
FAA defines Model Aircraft, UAV’s banned from US National Parks, fourth UAS test site operational, Washington Post study of crashing UAVs, a prize for your drone video, the latest news on UAVs in Brazil and Australia, and CNN wants to prove news drones are safe.
The FAA has published a policy notice stating that the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 gives the FAA authority to regulate model aircraft as unmanned aircraft if the model is flown in an unsafe manner.
According to the FAA press release, this guidance “comes after recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people.”
“This action provides interested persons with the opportunity to comment on the FAA’s interpretation of the special rule for model aircraft established by Congress in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In this interpretation, the FAA clarifies that: model aircraft must satisfy the criteria in the Act to qualify as model aircraft and to be exempt from future FAA rulemaking action; and consistent with the Act, if a model aircraft operator endangers the safety of the National Airspace System, the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against those operators for those safety violations.”
Provide your comments to FAA by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal and searching for docket number FAA-2014-0396.
The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) is not happy. They point out that they have managed model aircraft for 77 years. Furthermore, the Special Rule for Model Aircraft established by Congress exempts model aircraft from regulation as long as the activity “is conducted in accordance with and within the safety programing of a community-based organization,” that being the AMA.
Because it believes unmanned aircraft annoy visitors, harass wildlife and threaten safety, the U.S. National Park Service is banning unmanned aircraft.
In its press release, Prohibition of Unmanned Aircraft in National Parks, the NPS says the policy memorandum “directs superintendents nationwide to prohibit launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service.”
The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority is proposing that UAVs weighing less than two kg should not be regulated.
Writer Ben Sandilands says that he expects “that CASA and the Minister will embrace the chaos, and the maiming, damaging and even loss of life that is expected to ensue as the popularity of light weight drones costing small change takes off.”
A Washington Post investigation reveals that since 2001, more than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed around the world. The causes for the crashes are things like mechanical breakdowns, human error, and bad weather.
The Washington Post call this “a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic.”
Brazil doesn’t have restrictive regulations for UAVs, so business is booming. There are eight UAV manufacturers in São Paulo alone. But Brazilian Air Force Major Luiz Felipe says that doesn’t mean you can spy with your drone with impunity.
The Brazilian Air Force uses two Elbit Systems drones for patrol and surveillance of borders, major sporting events, and drug smuggling activity.
There is no new news on the World Cup spying incident. A FIFA spokesperson says there have been no further discoveries, and that they don’t even have confirmation that it even happened.
A triathlon competitor in Australia sustained injuries after she was allegedly hit in the head by a UAV, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority plans to take legal action against the pilot. That pilot says he lost control after being “channel hopped.”
The third FAA test site goes live, UAV’s to compete at Reno Air Races, drones spying at the World Cup, watching swim competition through the eyes of a quadcopter, hockey fans celebrate their victory by smashing a quadcopter, TV coverage of American football by drone, and mixing manned and unmanned flights in Japan.
UAS test site number three of six is now operational. The FAA granted the State of Nevada team a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to operate an Insitu ScanEagle at the Department of Energy airport at Desert Rock.
The airport is closed to the public, the ScanEagle will not fly above 3,000 feet, and the COA is good for two years. The research topics are UAS standards and operations, operator standards, and certification requirements. They’ll also look at how civil UAS will integrate with NextGen.
The Reno Air Racing Association is planning to make some changes for the 2014 National Championship Air Races, including a competition between drones. They also intend to transmit live race coverage to the jumbotron from a drone.
Other Academy projects include land survey projects, mapping hard to reach parts of the island, virtual reality tours, and inspecting wind power and solar panels. Many of the students are employed by local farmers to have the drones inspect their land.
For the first time, a UAV has flown from an airfield that supports both military and civilian operations. The Misawa Air Base in Japan is home to the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
The partnership between the U.S. military and Japan should provide experience operating manned and unmanned aircraft together with very different mission profiles.
A former Israeli Air Force pilot has developed a kit that you connect to a paper airplane and control with a smartphone app. The “PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane” was a Kickstarter project that raised $1.2 million (they were only looking for $50,000). The kit should be available at retail in August.
A UAS Test Site receives an FAA Certificate of Authorization, Spain bans commercial drone use, a drone tracker kit, drones for burglers, a survey says Americans favor targeting terrorists with drones, and an update on the FAA v. Pirker appeal.
On April 21, the FAA announced that the UAS Test Site operated by the North Dakota Department of Commerce is operational. A Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) was granted to the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES.
The AESA, Spain’s State Agency for Aerial Security, has banned commercial drone use anywhere in the country. The Agency fears “misunderstandings and possible incidents” with these new UAVs. If that’s not bad enough, what does this mean for two new projects: the Atlas Experimental Flight Centre for testing UAS and the aerodrome project in Doñana National Park?
Sagetech Corporation designs and manufacturers electronic subsystems for the unmanned and manned aerial vehicles. Their ADS-B Tracker Kit is a turnkey solution that tracks drones on iPads. For that price, you get a 150 gram Sagetech XPG-TR micro transponder for the drone, a Clarity ADS-B receiver, and an iPad.
If you obtain a relatively inexpensive multi-copter and attach an infrared camera, you can fly around and detect sources of relative heat. Also, someone growing a large number of marijuana plants in an indoor farm is going to be using a lot of grow lights. Put the two together and you have a creative use for drones. Good guys can catch the pot growers, Bad guys know where they can steal a lot of weed.
A recent Gallup Poll asked about 500 adult Americans “Do you think the U.S. government should or should not use drones to — ?” 65% said yes to launching airstrikes in other countries against suspected terrorists.
Much of this article repeats what we said last episode about FAA v. Pirker, but this was written by John Goglia, a former Board member. At issue is whether or not the small UAS is an aircraft as defined by the FARs, and thus subject Pirker to it’s limitations on careless or reckless operation of an aircraft. After almost ten years on the NTSB, Goglia notes that most (not all) cases go in favor of the FAA. But here he says, “This case appears to me to be one that defies logic.”
Video of the Week:
Matternet, A Ted Talk video about autonomous electric aerial vehicles proposed for a transportation network that brings items (“matter”) to areas of the world without year-round ground transportation roads. Via Michael.
Facebook buys a drone company, having enough communications and data bandwidth, an international UAV test consortium announced, UAV training at Roswell, busting FAA myths about UAVs, FAA authority to regulate UAS questioned, privacy questions flare down under, and Russia building Israeli UAVs.
Facebook is reportedly purchasing Titan Aerospace for $60 Million. Titan Aerospace makes high altitude solar-powered UAV’s that they refer to as persistent solar atmospheric satellites.™
Facebook is a partner in Internet.org, along with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm. Their objective is to bring everyone in the world with a smartphone into the “knowledge economy” by making Internet services 100 times more affordable.
Accomplishing that means reducing the volume of data served by ten times, and reducing the cost to serve that data by ten times. That’s where Titan comes in.
We talk a lot about the UAS regulations the FAA needs to establish, but there is something else that has to be figured out. All those military and commercial UAVs slated to cloud our skies need com links, and that means enough spectrum has to be available.
An International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites has been created to share information on operational safety, flight regulations, and operational experiences.
This is intended to enable development, testing, and certification of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). The Consortium also looks to support creation of international standards for UAS/RPAS construction. Other centers are expected to join the Consortium.
Strategic Aerospace International is setting up a drone pilot training center in Roswell, New Mexico, starting with 30 Air Force academy graduates in a three month program. SAI has the curriculum at 48 colleges and universities, but needs the airspace to fly the UAVs. They’ll use the Northrop Grumman SandShark UAS.
The FAA wants to dispel some of what they consider to be “misconceptions and misinformation” about UAS regulations. Things like control of airspace, what commercial flights are allowable, and can the FAA police all this? So they’ve published a list of seven myths and the “real” facts.
Myth #1: The FAA doesn’t control airspace below 400 feet Fact: They do.
Myth #2: Commercial UAS flights are OK if I’m over private property and stay below 400’. Fact: A 2007 Federal Register notice says no.
Myth #3: Commercial UAS operations are a “gray area” in FAA regulations. Fact: There is no gray.
Myth #4: There are too many commercial UAS operations for the FAA to stop. Fact: The FAA is watching and has appropriate enforcement tools
Myth #5: Commercial UAS operations will be OK after September 30, 2015. Fact: Congress mandated that the FAA come up with a safe integration plan by that date. Regulations, policies, and standards will come incrementally.
Myth #6: The FAA is lagging behind other countries in approving commercial drones. Fact: The U.S. is not like the rest of the world. We have a very busy airspace and we need to get this right.
Myth #7: The FAA predicts as many as 30,000 drones by 2030. Fact: That’s an old outdated number. Now the FAA estimates 7,500 sUAS by 2018
The author believes the U.S. Code and regulations that give the FAA authority, do not define UAVs, so they have no authority. And even if the FAA does have authority, it has not published the documents required to regulate UAVs. Regulatory and statutory law requires public scrutiny and input, and the FAA hasn’t done that.
A parliamentary inquiry is looking at drones and their use by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The AFP maintains use has been limited, like at crime scenes, and admits that covert surveillance would require a warrant. But the Office of the Privacy Commissioner says it has been getting inquiries from the public about the use of drones.
The FAA has a ban on commercial use of use of unmanned aircraft. Yet some people seem to be pulling it off. How? According to the website of Phoenix real estate photography company Aerial Raiders, they “fly for free.” They do, however, charge for editing and consulting.
The U.S. Congress mandated that the FAA fully integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace by 2015. When asked by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee if the FAA would meet that date, FAA chief Michael Huerta didn’t exactly say “yes.”
But others are also taking action. The Arizona Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation (SVEDF) says they will provide a 160-acre testing and training facility to businesses for commercial UAS applications. The Tucson-based Cyclone Autonomous Design Group is one of the companies planning to test its UAS ISR product (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) for safety applications, to assist firefighters, police, soldiers, etc.
Duane Embree, the executive director of the Indiana Office of Defense Development, says “Companies and others will need places where they can test a little, design a little, and then test more. We can essentially do everything we were going to do — just without the FAA designation.”
The Ground-Based Sense and Avoid Network or GBSAA is designed to meet the FAA requirements for full size drones in domestic airspace. The sites (at Army installations) were chosen were because they currently have a mission using MQ-1C Grey Eagle, the largest UAS currently operated by the US Army.