Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2017 - JAN 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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LETTER 45 unmanned systems inside December 2017/January 2018 W it h a s t r ok e of a p e n t he Tr u mp Administration has launched what could be- come a nation-wide skunk works for commer- cial drone implementation. Skunk Works Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, that is its Advanced Development Programs (ADP) divi- sion, is renowned for its speed, creative problem solving and the independence given to its engi- neering teams. The Skunk Works designed and delivered the P-80 Shooting Star fighter, the first turbojet-powered combat aircraft, in just 143 days. It developed the U-2 spy plane and, more recently, the stealthy F-117 Nighthawk. The FAA, which appears to be genuinely en- thusiastic, wants to cast the IP2 teams in the same fast-and-clever mold. The agency has long been under intense pressure to issue new rules allowing f lights over people, night f lights and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) mis- sions—all activities widely seen as essential if the drone industry is to become profitable. FAA needs more data to do that but, by all accounts, has been hamstrung by a shortage of resources. It now has a way to get that research done. That foundational research in IP2 is "one of the things most important to us," stressed Earl Lawrence, the director of FA A's UAS Integration Office during an IP2 questions- and-answer session. "The data gathered from this program will be used to educate national policy, rule making and enable us to take opera- tions that are approved today by exception and make them routine." So what kind of applications does the FA A want its would-be tiger teams to tackle? Based on the examples Lawrence listed for attendees at the November 2 IP2 launch—nearly every- thing seems to be on the table. "The first example is inspections of critical in- frastructure and protection of our environment. This includes operations such as inspecting bridges, pipelines, towers, shipping and wildlife monitoring. By conducting these operations we expect that there will be a need to demonstrate technology that supports beyond-visual-line- of-sight operations such as ID and tracking and the ability to avoid other aircraft and people and structures while conducting operations. The second example is emergency and medi- cal response. We expect operations of this nature to include accident and incident investigations, medical supply delivery, search and rescue, fire- fighting. And these types of activities will help inform state local and tribal communities on how best to conduct these operations and in- form the FAA on how we can best support those operations taking place in their communities." Other examples, Lawrence continued, in- clude disaster relief and news reporting where the FAA is hoping to learn how first respond- ers, incident commanders and private operators will work together during a disaster and what kind of air space support they will need. He also cited transportation and hazardous mate- rial operations such as using drones to monitor traffic hazards or help address train derail- ments where there are dangerous materials or debris on the highway. But that's not all. Other applications men- tioned in subsequent IP2 presentations and program-related documents include package delivery, cargo delivery, agriculture, sensor de- velopment, surveying and even human trans- port. The drones also don't have to be small. "We are expecting operations both under Part 107, which does limit aircraft weight to less than 55 pounds, but also some operations will be conducted under Part 91, which does not have a weight limit," said Tony Schneider from the FAA's Air Traffic Organization during the webinar question and answer session. "So both of those options are on the table and again the purpose of this program is to expand and in- form the FAA on future UAS operations." "This program does not limit to any particu- lar weight," confirmed an official during a later FAA webinar about IP2, "If you can discuss in your application that it makes sense that some- BY THE NUMBERS 2,324 The number of people expressing a desire to work on the Integration Pilot Program via the Interested Parties List. Source: The Federal Aviation Administration „

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