Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2019

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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Policy by James Poss, Maj Gen (Ret.) USAF General Overview Policy 10   June/July 2019 unmanned systems inside of cash they put down for a new airliner or helicopter model. The only commercial drone project that might get serious, manned-airliner- level attention from the Big Two is where the FA A drone rules are the clearest— large UAS f lying in controlled airspace. Here, the FAA has begun applying some manned aircraft rules like Part 91 (pri- vate manned aircraft), 135 (commercial carriers) to unmanned aircraft. The FAA also held a very successful "Large UAS Flight in Controlled Airspace" Aviation Rulemaking Committee last year that paved the way for over-55-pound drones to f ly in controlled airspace if they follow the rules used by large DOD drones op- erating in the U.S. Clarity in FA A rulemaking and sub- stantial pressure from their air cargo cus- tomers now has the attention of Boeing will hopefully use this military funding to make commercial drones to challenge DJI's current market dominance. NASA's Urban Air Mobility (UAM) effort has the potential to create a two- way street between the commercial and military drone markets. Uber is heav- ily invested in UAM and it has attracted the attention of two DOD drone heavy- weights—Bell Helicopters and the father of the modern military drone, Abe Karem (For more see p. 26). Abe hopes to capi- talize on his success in designing the MQ-1 Predator as an unmanned aircraft from the ground up, rather than turning manned aircraft designs into drones. Bell is doing the opposite—capitalizing on its proven, airworthy tiltrotor technology developed in the V-22/Osprey manned tiltrotor program to create an unmanned tiltrotor "taxi" for Uber. My prediction is the winner of Uber's UAM competition will turn right around and create a mili- tary version of its unmanned taxi. Finally, in the "I can't fathom why there isn't a two-way street in this one catego- ry" is the lack of interest in the military market presented by the two big pack- age delivery contenders—Amazon Prime Air and Google's "X." Why are these two fooling around trying to beg waivers from the FAA when they could be getting thousands of hours of experience—and millions in profit—delivering military cargo in war zones? I understand civilian branding might be an issue, particularly for Google, but Amazon Web Services is one of the largest IT providers to the DOD and the intelligence community. Why isn't Amazon droning spare parts across airfields in Iraq or delivering ammo in Afghanistan? The two-way street will f low when the FAA either figures out how to apply manned aircraft rules to drones or cre- ates remote ID, BVLOS and ops over people rules specifically for drones. We'll see a lot of military-to-commercial traffic initially, but things will even out soon af- ter rational drone rules. Maybe then the big commercial drone powers—Amazon, Google and Uber—will realize there's just as much money in ferrying supplies and soldiers in Syria as there is in delivering packages and passengers stateside. 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. I PREDICT THAT CONTRA-FLOW WILL MOVE INITIALLY FROM THE MILITARY DRONE WORLD TO THE CIVILIAN SIDE BEFORE CHANGING TO A TWO-WAY STREET A FEW YEARS AFTER RATIONAL DRONE RULES ARRIVE and Airbus commercial aircraft sectors— the major moneymakers in the Big Two. Both are working with a FedEx/UPS/ DHL consortium to design an option- ally piloted/single pilot-conf iguration large cargo aircraft. Drone rules clarity combined with an existing commercial manned aircraft business in a defense company sounds like a prediction for de- fense interest in the commercial drone market, eh? The opposite end of the spectrum is General Atomics, probably the most successful defense drone company on ear th—but one that lacks a manned commercial aircraft segment. GA al- ready has a tremendous inducement to get involved in the commercial drone business because its militar y MQ-9 drone was one of the world's f irst to attain air wor thiness under Par t 91. However, despite having a four million- hour, airworthy drone, GA is hesitant because it doesn't see a prof it in the type of commercial mission the MQ-9 could f ly. With no commercial aircraft segment to pressure corporate decision makers, I predict GA will avoid the com- mercial market for some time to come. This isn't to say there is no movement from the commercial drone market to the military. There is some, but the restric- tions imposed by Part 107 make it tough for commercial vendors to enter the mili- tary market. The military doesn't have much use for drones that can't fly BVLOS. THE OFF-THE-SHELF EXCEPTION One exception is the military require- ment created by the DOD ban on off-the- shelf (DJI) drones. That prohibition led to American commercial drone manu- facturer Altavian winning a Short Range Reconnaissance Prototype contract from the U.S. Army to make an under-five- pound drone for platoon-level operations (For more see p. 24). The Army needed an American-made alternative to DJI drones like the Phantom IV and Altavian

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