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.”
It gets all the press, but the Phantom isn’t the only multicopter that DJI makes. The Spreading Wings S900 Hexacopter is referred to by DJI as an “aerial system for the professional creator.”
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.
Videos of the Week
World’s Largest Urban Zipline and Behind The Scenes – Urban Zipline! World’s Biggest!! from Eric. A 2000 foot zip line from a tower in Panama over a road and marina with base jumpers is documented with quadcopters and other video methods.
Why Firefighters Aren’t Using Drones to View the Blazes – Yet from Bill. This impressive aerial video of a wild fire and of aerial firefighting suggests why UAVs and response teams don’t mix well. also related: California firefighters encounter civilian drone for first time.
Birds Eye Alaska is the Kickstarter project of a paralyzed man who is using UAVs to create great content, and a new life.
Lost DJI Phantom/Drone and Go Pro (Litchfield Beach/Pawley’s Island) Missing quadcopter search by Craig’s List.