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UAV: Yet to fly high

Jan 2014 | No Comment

Recently FAA released Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Roadmap. Experts share their views on policy perspective and challenges

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released on November 7, 2013 its first annual Roadmap outlining efforts needed to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the nation’s airspace. The Roadmap addresses current and future policies, regulations, technologies and procedures that will be required as demand moves the country from today’s limited accommodation of UAS operations to the extensive integration of UAS into the NextGen aviation system in the future. “Government and industry face significant challenges as unmanned aircraft move into the aviation mainstream,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This Roadmap is an important step forward that will help stakeholders understand the operational goals and safety issues we need to consider when planning for the future of our airspace.”

The Roadmap outlines the FAA’s approach to ensuring that widespread UAS use is safe, from the perspective of accommodation, integration, and evolution. The FAA’s main goal for integration is to establish requirements that UAS operators will have to meet in order to increase access to airspace over the next five to 10 years. The Roadmap discusses items such as new or revised regulations, policies, procedures, guidance material, training and understanding of systems and operations to support routine UAS operations. “The FAA is committed to safe, efficient and timely integration of UAS into our airspace,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We are dedicated to moving this exciting new technology along as quickly and safely as possible.”

The Roadmap also addresses the evolution of UAS operations once all requirements and standards are in place and are routinely updated to support UAS operations as the National Airspace System evolves over time. The document stresses that the UAS community must understand the system is not static, and that many improvements are planned for the airspace system over the next 15 years. The FAA plans to select six UAS test sites to begin work on safely integrating UAS into the airspace. These congressionally-mandated test sites will conduct critical research into how best to safely integrate UAS systems into the national airspace over the next several years and what certification and navigation requirements will need to be established.

The use of UAS, both at the designated test sites and in the national airspace generally, raises the issue of privacy and protection of civil liberties. In February, the FAA asked for public comments specifically on the draft privacy requirements for the six test sites. Today, the agency sent a final privacy policy to the Federal Register that requires test site operators to comply with federal, state, and other laws on individual privacy protection, to have a publicly available privacy plan and a written plan for data use and retention, and to conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment. Information about the test site selection process and final test site privacy policy is available at:

For the next several years, the FAA will continue to use special mitigations and procedures to safely accommodate limited UAS access to the nation’s airspace on a case-by-case basis. The Roadmap notes that this case-bycase accommodation will decline significantly as integration begins and expands, but will continue to be a practical way to allow flights by some UAS operators in certain circumstances. In addition to the FAA’s Roadmap, as required in the 2012 FAA Reauthorization, the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) has developed a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil UAS into the national airspace system. That plan details a multi-agency approach to safe and timely UAS integration and coordination with the NextGen shift to satellite-based technologies and new procedures. The UAS Roadmap (PDF) and UAS Comprehensive Plan is available on our website. releases/news_story.cfm?newsid=15334

Creating regulatory structure is the biggest challenge

Here are the responses of the FAA to questions raised by Coordinates relating to UAS integration Roadmap

Please highlight few key features of UAS Integration Roadmap?

The Roadmap provides a “how to” for safe, efficient and timely integration of UAS into the busiest, most complex airspace in the world. The Roadmap lays out in one place the regulations, technologies, standards and policies the FAA needs to ensure are needed to accommodate a wide variety of UAS operations, and do so safely.

What are the main challenges before FAA?

Creating the regulatory structure is the biggest challenge for UAS integration. This structure has to address and accommodate the technological aspects of an evolving industry, as well as regulatory standards. The long term goal for UAS integration is for UAS to operate in the same airspace as manned aircraft. Current separation standards for manned aircraft are based on many criteria. UAS-related standards, rules and procedures are being developed to address detect-and-avoid, but much research remains to be done to determine if UAS will require new separation criteria.

Is there a need to regulate the flying of UAS?

UAS are inherently different from manned aircraft, so introducing them into the nation’s airspace is challenging for both the FAA and the aviation community. We are progressing as quickly as we can in crafting regulations and policies given the current state of technology and our core mission of ensuring safety for the flying public and for persons and property on the ground. The FAA has asked RTCA to work with industry and assist in the development of UAS standards. RTCA’s technical group will address how UAS will handle communication, command and control and how UAS will detect and avoid other aircraft.

What are the plans of FAA of integrating UAS to the National Airspace System (NAS)?

The Roadmap lays out a clear path toward that goal. The 2012 FAA Reauthorization calls for “safe integration” of UAS by the 2015 date. The intent of the legislation is for the FAA to have a specific plan with milestones, and to show progress against these milestones. The small UAS proposed rule that we expect to publish in 2014 will help with integration and will address what we think is the largest area of pent-up UAS demand – commercial operations. In addition, the six UAS test sites, which we will select by the end of this year, will give us data that will help our integration efforts.

Is privacy an issue that needs attention in context of UAS?

We have already ensured individual privacy and civil liberties are protected as part of the test site selection process. The selected test site operators will be required to adhere to a test site privacy policy which includes obeying all federal, state, and local laws on individual privacy, and to take other measures to ensure accountability for data collected as a result of test site operations. The FAA’s primary mission is safety. While we acknowledge that privacy and the protection of civil liberties are important issues affecting UAS integration, a whole-of-government approach will be needed to address the broader aspects of a privacy policy, beyond the test sites. The FAA is cooperating with other agency partners to advance this policy.


The FAA paves the way for UAS Integration

Michael Toscano

President & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International

The FAA took important steps in 2013 to advance integration and set 2014 as an exciting year for the UAS industry. After months of delays, the FAA finally released its integration roadmap and announced the six UAS test sites, which are significant initial steps on the path to integration.

The potential for the growth of the UAS industry needs no better evidence than the furor with which states pursued the six coveted FAA test site designations. State legislatures from Hawaii to Michigan passed resolutions in support of their states’ bids. Elected officials in Nevada, North Dakota and Ohio announced plans for development parks in support of the industry.

In the end, the University of Alaska, State of Nevada, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and their partners received FAA approval to operate test sites. No doubt more organizations will reapply for test sites as the integration process progresses.

In designating the UAS test sites in these states, the FAA has taken an important step toward recognizing the incredible economic and job creation potential this technology brings. AUVSI released an economic report in 2013 that found the industry would create 100,000 jobs and create more than $82 billion in economic impact in the first decade after integration.

There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for the civil and commercial uses of UAS. Amazon’s plans to launch a ‘Prime Air’ delivery system demonstrate the promise of unmanned aircraft systems. It underscores how this innovative technology will transform the way industries operate. For instance, some farmers have already begun experimenting with the technology, which can help them detect crop disease or stress earlier and more efficiently manage their crops, increasing yields and saving money. Other industries, from oil and gas to real estate agents to firefighters are waiting in the wings to take advantage of this technology.

A recent poll by the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions found that 61 percent of respondents support using UAS for commercial applications. In addition to commercial applications, support for public safety applications is growing. A Monmouth University poll released in August 2013 found that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 83 percent – support the idea of using UAS to help with search and rescue missions.

The approach that the FAA has taken towards integration has reflected how seriously it takes the issues of safety and privacy. The integration roadmap affirms the robust legal framework that already protects Americans, starting with the Fourth Amendment and its interpretation through court decisions. It also requires test sites to have a written plan for data use and retention, which will help to increase transparency. These test sites will serve an important role for experimenting with policies to determine how to use UAS responsibly.

Now is an exciting time for the UAS industry as the FAA begins the work that will allow industries to use UAS to do everything from helping fight wildfires to searching for missing hikers to filming Hollywood blockbusters.

The FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap

Patrick Egan

Editor, Americas Desk, sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of
the sUAS News Podcast Series and Drone TV. He also serves as President of the Silicon Valley Chapter of AUVSI.

A short synopsis of what it means to the rest of us outside of Washington D.C. The technology has many names and more are sure to come, but by-in-large the most widely accepted name is Drone. Be on the look out for the ICAO definition of RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System). However, here in the U.S., we can’t even really agree on a name that satisfies the different strata’s of stakeholder much less anything that resembles viable regulations for the use of this potentially transformative technology. Not to say that people aren’t already using the technology every day. Youtube, Vimeo and almost any other forum that has to do with a profession that can benefit from the addition of low altitude remote sensing (photography) are full of people successfully using drones.

The disruptive promise of Unmanned Aircraft is the ability to conduct low cost and self-guided remote sensing. Not just filming extreme sports, as tens of thousands of posted videos would suggest. Most of the application success stories come from existing businesses that can use this technology platform to enhance efficiency. Aerial photography has held benefit or appeal to many professions. However, that usually comes at a price in both wait time and money with no guaranty you’ll even get the data you need or wanted. So, most don’t bother and use more traditional very often slower means of gathering relevant data. True it is less efficient, but it is a sure bet on your schedule. This will be changing as low cost unmanned systems the miniaturization of sensors and the proliferation of software all mean that the end-user is able to gather their own data on their terms.

Here in the U.S., we have an FAA roadmap. Many believe it shows what it looks like when government representatives or civil employees who know little about technology try to regulate said technology. Nothing takes the wind out of the sails of innovation quite like bad regulation. Furthermore, over regulation usually hamstrings the benefits a new technology can bring. The U.S. is seen as a leader in the unmanned systems technology sector. While that is true for military use, some are beginning to have doubts about the civilian sector. Advancements are obstructed as the academic and business end-users suffer from a shortage of legal income streams and institutional investment. This can be traced directly back to a lack of common sense regulation. This work is done in private as people work in silos of secrecy not to have their research or business compromised by the government. No shortage of “moonshots” and monkeyshines here in the U.S. as there exists many people working on the same problem with a different perspective and sets of priorities. Woefully inefficient and counter productive to the promise offered by unmanned systems.

I hear different business models from a wide cross section of potential users who have no idea what the regulations will look like, or believe that the skies of the U.S. will open up to unmanned systems in September of 2015. Unfortunately, it is very likely that the mandated deadline will come and go without achieving the desired intent. So, most of the time I counsel these would be entrepreneurs that they should go off shore.

Promise for anyone throughout the global community –

What does this lack of U.S. regulatory action mean to the rest of the world? Well, our folly is everyone else’s opportunity to gain. In South America, for example, some countries believe that certain agrarian applications for unmanned technologies will help them be more competitive with U.S. The opportunity to be the first to market with the process and applications for unmanned technology is still open to innovators and visionaries no matter their nationality or location. Those same innovators and visionaries have the means at their disposal to help feed a hungry world and to be better stewards of our finite private and public resources.


UAV in Japan: Needs improvement

Shunji Murai

Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo, Japan

There are many problems about UAV in Japan.

• Electric frequency restriction blocks to use wireless system to transfer image data taken by UAV to ground control center.

• Security control is too severe to fly over the sky of urban areas which results in flying only less populated areas.

• Insurance is too costive as there were many crash accidents.

• Camera selection is not flexible concerning commercial UAVs.

• Fully self-reliant UAV system has not yet been developed. It means that we need specialist of manual operation of take-off and touch-down.

• Many accidents occurred by following the operation manual of computer control navigation system which was provided by the manufacturer.

My view will be “a lot of improvement should be undertaken for self-reliant UAV system”, and “we need some sort of guarantee to allow flyingover populated areas such as urban areas”.


The main challenges, besides technology, are societal acceptance and cultural acceptance by the aviation community, including the regulators

Filippo Tomasello

Rulemaking Officer (Initial Airworthiness) European Aviation Safety Authority

You may like to highlight the growth potential of UAS technology and also the challenges before it.

Mankind experienced three industrial revolutions. First energy at factories and second energy “in motion”. Development of transportation means, including aviation, is linked to the second revolution. Aviation is still there, mainly using energy to transport people or freight, while in other segments of social life we are already in the third revolution. UAS technology finally brings aviation into this third revolution: the information society. UAS are in fact not mainly intended to replace manned aviation, but to acquire any sort of data, which further processing may turn into information. This is the biggest opportunity. The second opportunity is that UAS will “colonise” volumes of airspace not significantly used by manned aviation (e.g. below 500 feet), so better exploiting this natural resource.

The main challenges, besides technology, are societal acceptance and cultural acceptance by the aviation community, including the regulators. The latter historically saw airworthiness in the first place and, only after, considered operations. For UAS we have to consider also operations from beginning, since safety can be achieved, when appropriate, through operational limitations (e.g. not overfly populated areas).

With the entry of many players from the private sector, academia and the government in UAV segment, what are the main challenges before (European Aviation Safety Authority) EASA?

In the USA the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible to regulate access to their airspace by all public and private entities, for experimental, recreational, professional or commercial use. Consistency of approach is ensured by the unique responsibility conferred by the USA legislator to the FAA. The institutional situation in the European Union is much more complex, with Member States responsible to regulate experimental flights and civil UAS below 150 Kg. EASA is only responsible for UAS produced in industrial series for civil use and above such mass. Furthermore, the competent authority in the States for public flights is not always the CAA. Finally there are public Agencies, like EMSA and FRONTEX, which may execute “public” flights, but are not necessarily under the jurisdiction of the State where they are located, since they are EU Agencies. But we cannot divergent regulatory approaches. The challenge is hence to maintain a constant dialogue between EASA and all the other involved authorities, to possibly jointly progress in a harmonized way.

Do you think there is a need to regulate the flying of UAS especially to deal with issues of safety and security?

Yes. Safety and security first. But also privacy and data protection, as well as liability and insurance.

If we do not regulate all these facets in a synchronized way, society would not accept wide use of UAS. This is the reason for which the EU “roadmap” http://easa. Systems-(UAS)-and-Remotely-Piloted- Aircraft-Systems-(RPAS).php comprises three pillars: safety led by EASA; research and development led by SESAR JU and other societal aspects (e.g. liability) led by the European Commission. Even in this case the main challenge for Europe is to maintain synchronization among different public entities with different mandates.

Do you think privacy is an issue that needs attention in context of UAS?

Definitely. And I, for safety, security, privacy, liability and insurance I see no solution, unless we clearly identify the legal responsibilities of the UAS “operator” (i.e. the company; not the remote pilot) and the associated privileges. According to amendment 43 to ICAO Annex 2, the RPAS operator need a certificate and continuous oversight by its competent aviation authority. In the draft requirements ‘JARUSORG’ we already have the concept that the operator is responsible to manage not only safety, but also security (e.g. properly storing the UAS overnight), privacy and liability (i.e. obligation to be insured).

Are you also working with other international counterparts to harmonize standards, policies, procedures, and regulatory requirements?

Yes. With my friend Jim Coyne (Australia) I co-chair the ICAO Study Group on the matter, where we have colleagues coming from all the continents, as well as from selected international organisations. So far we intend to propose ICAO standards only for UAS operations of global relevance: i.e. “beyond Visual Line-of-sight” (BVLOS). Reality of emerging civil operations is that the majority of them is today on the contrary in VLOS (i.e. below 500 ft and few hundred metres from the remote pilot on the ground). So, while we agree that ICAO standardization should only cover BVLOS, in Europe we think that, to safely open the internal market, we also need to harmonise rules for VLOS. This is what we are striving for in the group of Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS).


The market needs to mature, both commercially and technically

Ron van de Leijgraaf

Senior Policy Advisor Aviation Safety Unit, Aviation Department Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Netherlands

What are the growth potential of commercial UAS and the challenges before it?

Commercial UAS technology is growing at a very rapid pace, allowing a steady grow in the civil UAS market, both from a business perspective and from a technological perspective. The challenges this industry is facing are multiple. First the market needs to mature, both commercially and technically. We need mature, reliable systems to develop a stable and mature commercial market.

On the other hand, aviation authorities will have to adapt to this quickly growing industry and develop suitable and proportionate regulation to allow UAS to operate safely while not delaying the growth and development of the market. One of the major issues that the authorities are facing is that UAS operations are extremely diverse (e.g. delivering goods, inspecting windmills, photogrammetry of agricultural areas, surveilling fire areas) and in most cases incomparable to operations in manned aviation. This diversity in operations makes it very difficult to develop one set of regulations for all UAS operations. The biggest technology challenge at the moment is the development of a detect and avoid system, which will allow full integration of UAS in the airspace.

Is there a need to regulate the flying of UAS to deal with issues of safety and security?

UAS are operating in a well-organized and regulated aviation environment. For many UAS industries, this operational area is totally new. This means that the industry is exposed to aviation regulation and they have to fit into this currently existing system. Aviation regulators will have to get familiar with this new ‘kid on the block’ in the aviation community and find an appropriate and proportionate regulatory system to allow safe operations by UAS.

What do you think about privacy issue in context of UAS?

Privacy is definitely one of the major issues that the UAS market is facing. At a global level it is clear that the primary interest at a political level regarding UAS is focused on privacy. Although usually different organizations within a country are responsible for privacy, security and safety, the issue of privacy could be best addressed in close coordination with the safety and security regulation.


Delfly UAV is inspired by how small insects and birds fly

Guido de Croon

Assistant-professor, Micro Air Vehicle laboratory, Section Control and Simulation, Department Control and Operations, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

How is the Delfly UAV system unique from others?

The Delfly is different from most commercial UAVs because it is inspired by how small insects and birds fly. It is bio-inspired and so it is very different from rotor craft UAV systems. The Delfly Explorer is the first flapping wing micro air vehicle that can avoid obstacles by itself in an unknown environment. It carries a 4 g stereo vision system which enables to avoid obstacles. We think that this light-weight flapping wing system opens up many new possibilities. Since they are light weight, it is suitable for indoors. In comparison with small rotor craft, they are more efficient at smaller scales and in forward flight. It can fly slowly for ~10 minutes, but will fly much longer when flying forward. If it flies into an obstacle, it will not break anything because of the flapping wings: the system uses unsteady aerodynamics to fly, and the speeds of the wings are close to zero when they touch something. In contrast, in a rotor craft the rotor moves very fast, which gives it a tendency to suck itself into the ceiling or the walls; this does not happen as much with the flapping wings. The concrete examples of applications include flying in a greenhouse, detecting where there is fruit, determining when you can pluck it or where the plants need more water. Another example could be inspection of pipelines inside factories. Also, if you have a concert indoors then it could fly over the crowd and stream the images onto a screen.

What system do you use for navigation?

The main problem for navigation indoors is that you always have obstacles close by, and that we solve with the help of the stereo vision system and the onboard control algorithms. We also have a very small auto pilot of one gram. It does have gyros, pressure meter and the gear meter too. The pressure meter controls the height during the flight and before it takes off it measures the pressure. It uses the gyros to counteract the wind gusts, a draft from an air conditioner is a disturbance to the Delfly trajectory, so we use auto pilot to counteract it.

What about debates of safety issues and security policies?

The Delfly Explorer is a very lightweight flapping wing UAV. I think they can open up very new applications, since they are so very different from most current UAVs. They are so lightweight that they are inherently completely safe. The technology we work on to avoid obstacles with them will be very important to any application. If you can use the obstacle avoidance system for the small scale of the DelFly, you can also use it for the bigger ones and make them safe without reducing the payload capabilities.

Amazon testing dronesfor deliveries

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, istesting unmanned drones to deliver goods tocustomers, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos says.The drones, calledOctocopters,could deliverpackages weighingup to 2.3kg to customerswithin 30 minutes of themplacing the order, he said.However, he added that it could take up to ve years for the service to start.The US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approvethe use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes.“I know this looks like science  ction, but it’s not,” MrBezos told CBS television’s 60 Minutes programme.“We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carryobjects, we think, up to  ve pounds (2.3kg), whichcovers 86% of the items that we deliver.”

Goa University studentsbuild QuadCopter

A team of gadget geeks from Goa University’s electronicsdepartment have built their own version of an UnmannedSurveillance Vehicle (UAV) a 1.2 kg QuadCopter orfour-rotor helicopter as their  nal year project. WhileQuadCopters are being constructed and researchedextensively by the armed forces across the world, theGU team’s device, named Aditya is unique because itwas built from scratch on a budget of only 30,000.The zippy little craft however is a work in progressand its creators, the team of eight  nal yearMSc Electronics students, will push for a patentonce they perfect their ‘ ight mechanism’.‘Aditya weighs 1.2kg and has a payload capacity of200g. It has been successfully tested for vertical takeoffand landing operations,’ said Kevin D’Souza, 22,one of the students who developed the device. ‘It can y in a radius of 200m and  y to heights of 15-20m,for 20 minutes on a single battery charge,’ he added.

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