Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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7 unmanned systems inside October/November 2016 has never regulated before drones be- came popular and only 75% of it at that. Long-time flyers know flight below 500 feet has always been the Wild West be- cause the FAA never regulated this air- space before drones came along. What we didn't get is enough altitude to do a number of important missions. 400 feet is fine for delivering small packages, inspecting pipelines and the movie in- dustry. It's too low to get decent range from UAS data links and much too low for larger UAS to f ly. What we need is REAL integration into the National Airspace System (NAS)—the much saf- er and more fuel efficient realm above 400 feet. After all, that was what Con- gress intended when they told the FAA to integrate UAS into the NAS. The FA A addressed pilot training and certification by mandating UAS pilots to get a TSA check and obtain a remote pilot's license via computer based testing at an FAA Test Center. What we got was a hard fought compro- mise between drone advocacy groups and manned aircraft associations. The manned aircraft associations at least got a written test for drone pilots, but they still insist drone pilots should have to actually demonstrate their ability to f ly safely to an FAA tester. The drone advocacy groups settled for a test, but objected to testing at an FAA Center. What we didn't get was a solution that satisfied both parties, particularly when it comes to flying with waivers for Part 107. What we need is a way ahead for drone crew training. A computer test may be fine for drones flown under all the restrictions of Part 107, but what about training for all those waiverable rules? Is it really safe to let someone fly a 1,000-pound drone at 10,000 feet be- yond visual line of sight without a full training program with demonstrated competency at these types of risky flight procedures? Drone pilots can't f ly over people not directly involved in operation of the drone, unless they are under cover. This is one of the two "big" restrictions in Part 107. What we got was a slight re- laxation of the proposed rule—we can at least fly over people under roofs. What we didn't get is a viable way to make money with drones. There's little profit to be made flying over open fields or de- livering packages to the vacant lot three blocks from your house. What we need are clear rules for f lying over people with minimal risk. To their credit, the FAA is already working on this via the Micro UAS aviation rulemaking com- mittee. I have high hopes they'll keep the pressure on industry to propose rules for operations over people soon (indeed, RTCA already has draft rules). The second big restriction is that pilots must keep their drones within "WHAT WE GOT WAS A SLIGHT RELAXATION OF THE PROPOSED RULE–WE CAN AT LEAST FLY OVER PEOPLE UNDER ROOFS." MAJOR GENERAL JAMES O. POSS (RET) is a leading expert on UAS, having targeted the first armed UAS strikes, designed the U.S. Air Force's remote split operations system for UAS control, and designed the Distributed Common Ground Station for UAS intelligence analysis. General Poss was the Executive Director of the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence Team. He is CEO of ISR Ideas—an intelligence, unmanned systems and cyber warfare consulting company with decades of intelligence community experience, coupled with insider FAA knowledge. The md4-1000 by microdrones is used for inspections.

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