Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2018

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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10  October/November 2018 unmanned systems inside tween states didn't face a patchwork of local laws that would inhibit com- merce. Commerce was the driving factor, which is why the Secretary of Commerce ended up with civil avia- tion. Safety didn't become the prime regulatory concern until Congress moved aviation out from Commerce and created the independent Federal Aviation Administration in 1956. Drones are the biggest change agent in aviation since the invention of the airliner. They challenge the basic tenet of aviation safety—that a pilot can always "see and avoid" colli- sions even if all other safety mecha- nisms fail. Creating a system that al- lows drones to f ly alongside manned aircraft will bring new kinds of risks and will require more sophisticated air traffic automation than we've ever seen—a difficult, but certainly doable task in this exponential age of tech- nology. Is an independent agency that prides itself on putting safety above all else ever going to be willing to compromise on its most basic tenet in the interest of commerce? Will the FA A move quickly with unmanned air traffic automation even though a successful automated system will completely upend the way it's been managing air traff ic for decades? Will the states be more agile in re- sponding to commercial pressures more quickly without sacrificing the safety we all hold so dear? 24 YEARS OF CAUTION From an industry perspective, the FAA has been creating drone regula- tions slowly and cautiously. I put the beginning of the modern drone era in 1994 with the first f light of the MQ-1 Predator (the first drone capable of safe, sustained beyond-line-of-sight f light). It took the FAA 24 years from this point to publish their first drone rules. That's the same amount of time it took for the Wright Brother's first f light, inauguration of America's first airline and the creation of an entire agency to oversee commercial avia- tion in the U.S. And the first FA A drone rules aren't close to what the commercial operators need to meet market demands and build a viable commercial drone industry. Drones can't f ly over 400 feet, can't be more than 55 pounds, can't f ly over people, can only f ly in daytime and can't f ly beyond the visual range of their pilot. Rules for large drones are (hopefully) going better, but let's face it—the U.S. Air Force has been f lying large drones safely alongside manned aircraft for 26 years. Commercial-sector-enabling small UAS rules have encountered snag after snag. Rules for f lights over people are snarled over a fight with the Depar tments of Defence and Homeland Security (DOD and DHS) about drone remote identif ication, with no word on regulations for more than a year. Official rulemaking for BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) f lights hasn't been started yet and two years' worth of Pathfinder experi- ments only yielded closely guarded procedures for extended visual line of sight (EVLOS) f light. Not only are there no rules even for EVLOS, but the Pathfinder company involved is selling access to the procedures they developed with the FA A during the program. A bit off topic, but shouldn't that information be for everyone's pub- lic benefit? LET STATES LEAD Back on point, let's think about this some more. The Integrated Pilot MAJOR GENERAL JAMES 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 helped design 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. General Overview by James Poss, Maj Gen (Ret.) USAF

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