UAS Digest #12The week’s top news in the drone industry

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UAS Digest #12—this edition is being published on a Monday instead of the usual Friday, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Welcome back!


Bad News

→ Lehigh Valley drone incidents—Local newspaper accumulates five regional UAS incidents creating a sense of concern.


→ The Terror of Global Drones—Intended to be humorous, but with such a headline and a few examples, the story does not improve the public’s opinion.



→ PDK airport webpage aims to educate residents on drone safety—DeKalb-Peachtree Airport this week launched a new webpage aimed at educating the public on drone safety…The webpage notes that hobbyists who fly drones, or unmanned aircraft, must follow safety guidelines. It also notes that a federal rule specifies that users of model aircraft — including recreational drones — should not fly within 5 miles of an airport without notifying the airport or its control tower beforehand.q11


FAA Policy and Authorizations

→ FAA Task Force Recommends Requiring Registration for Most Drones—A list of recommendations intended to enhance safety and better educate users.


→ UAS Registration Task Force Report—The text of their actual report.


What To Expect From The Recommendations Of The UAS Task Force

  • Drones between 250 grams (.55 pounds) and 55 pounds that are operated outdoors need to be registered.
  • The registration is owner-based, so one number can apply to all the drones an owner has.
  • Registration will be mandatory at the time of operation and not the point of sale.
  • The owner’s name and street address will be mandatory (no P.O. Boxes).  Other information, such as email address or cell phone number will be optional.
  • There is no citizenship requirement.
  • Minimum age to register is 13.
  • No fee for registration.
  • Registration should be web-based.
  • A registration certificate will be mailed to the owner.
  • The registration number will need to be put on each drone.

FAA Task Force Recommends Registration Of Drones As Small As Half A Pound—John Goglia critiques the report, one of the better ones, and there are many criticisms.q22

→ NBAA Responds to FAA Task Force Recommendations Regarding UAS Registration Requirements—One of the Task Force members provides support for the package.


→ AMA reacts to DOT task force recommendations on UAS registration—”Unfortunately, as written, these recommendations would make the registration process an unnecessary and unjustified burden to our 185,000 members, who have operated harmoniously within the aviation community for decades.”


Good news

→ Best of Sydney from a drone—On a CASA approved flight, some great pictures of that Aussie city.q33






Legal Information

→ Who owns the sky? Property owners or drone users?—The Irish Aviation Authority issued an interesting paper: ad coelum doctrine, the owner of land owned ‘up to the heavens and down to hell’. However, by the early part of the 20th century, the emergence of aviation and the introduction of planes to the sky put paid to this notion. Higher altitude airspace became public airspace in which landowners of the surface below had little or no interest.


Legislative Information

→ House Subcommittee Peers Up at Drone Issues—The House subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade discussed how drones should be adequately regulated. Of biggest concern: privacy rights. “With their capacity to reach secure areas, including the White House lawn, which happened earlier this year, drones can pose a serious national security threat,” said Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the subcommittee.


→ q44Hoeven Meets With FAA Senior Advisor to Advance Effort to Develop Concurrent Airspace Use at Grand Forks Test Site – News Releases – Press Office – United States Senator John Hoeven for North Dakota—“North Dakota is playing a significant role in the development and integration of UAS technologies, and it’s very important that we work with General Gibson because we want to develop concurrent air space use at Grand Forks,” Hoeven said. “That means flying manned and unmanned aircraft in the same airspace and doing it while respecting privacy rights and also doing it safely.”


Market Forecast

→ New report shares details about the United States unmanned aerial vehicle market 2015—Though its military drones, the civilian applications will follow through creative minds.


Operational Developments

→ Aurora Flight Sciences and Stratasys Deliver World’s First Jet-Powered, 3D Printed UAV in Record Time—The symbiosis between new manufacturing technology and new design concepts delivers a truly state-of-the-art.q77


→ Robo Raven: A drone that actually does fly like a bird — Defense Systems—A machine to mimic the flight of birds, which is controlled by countless nerves, muscles and subtle, instantaneous adjustments to airflow, obstacles and other flying objects, is a complex problem. “It’s extraordinarily difficult to unravel all of the pieces of that problem,” even with flexible wings, sensors and a variety of controls, Gerdes said. “It’s just too difficult to engineer at this point. But, we can approach that solution at least.”q55


→ Precision Drone System Receives First Section 333 Exemption—“Hawk Aerial and PRENAV have been granted the first Section 333 exemptions from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the PRENAV precision drone system, which will be used to inspect cell phone towers and other large structures.” The sentence should be clearer; there are many other §333’s with authority to inspect cell towers and other structures.


→ US Utilities See Potential in Drones to Inspect Lines, Towers—The remote-controlled devices make the work of linemen safer, more efficient and less expensive, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, which last month put on a three-day workshop to help nearly a dozen utilities choose the best machines for the job.


→ Japanese security firm Secom to help companies stay safe with drones—”Japanese security company Secom, starting in December, will offer a surveillance service using drones designed to detect and track suspicious vehicles and people. The drones can also take pictures of license plates and intruders’ faces as they enter factory grounds or shops at night.”q88


People in Drone Nation




→ In EPIC Lawsuit, FAA Concedes Drone Privacy Risks–the FAA acknowledged that the comprehensive plan “recognizes the privacy issues that may be heightened” by drone surveillance. The FAA also conceded that drones, “because of their size and capabilities, may enhance privacy concerns,” but the agency has still not begun the process of developing regulations to safeguard privacy.


Research—Academic/Business- teaching

→ Unmanned aircraft uses for agriculture ‘limited only by imagination’—Robert Moorhead, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Geosystems Research Institute and Northern Gulf Institute at Mississippi State University, said, “By doing surveillance and analysis of field and crop conditions with unmanned systems, the aerial applicator, using precision application technology, can deliver less chemical or fertilizer over a smaller area.”


→ KSU Gets Nation’s 1st Approval for Unmanned Commercial Flight Training—The university claims a §333 grant which will allow them to teach commercial drone pilots. Interesting—did anyone see an FAA promulgation of standards for commercial UAS pilots?q66


→ New partnership to boost unmanned systems research, pilot testing—Indiana State University and PrecisionHawk have signed a research and development partnership that aims to advance the unmanned aerial systems industry from multidisciplinary perspectives.

The partnership will explore and pursue the following areas:

  • Airspace deconfliction
  • Advanced mission planning algorithm development
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Opportunities within PrecisionHawk safety initiatives, including LATAS, its low altitude traffic and airspace service platform
  • Development of analytics clusters and full-spectrum analytics support


Regulatory Policy

→ Aero-TV: FAA Administrator Huerta at Redbird 2015 – Unmanned Aerial Systems & the NAS—a video in which the head of the FAA explains his view of today’s Drone operations. Not good.


→ City Council holds hearings on drones—At a New York City Council hearing, one of the world’s top drone lawyers — now a vice-president for the world’s largest drone company — objected to a series of bills proposing to regulate drone use in New York City.


Safety Research

→ How drones are being used for safety and rescue—A lifeguard-controlled drone scours for sharks at Seal Beach in Southern California. In Germany, a drone brings a defibrillator to a man on a golf course having a heart attack. And during the floods in Texas this year, drones served up flotation devices to stranded people.q99

→ Toy Drone Risk More Costly and Dangerous than Birds in Plane Strike New Study Indicates—The study examined what will happen when a collision occurs between a toy drone and a manned aircraft, including the potential for damage and death. The study further compared a toy drone strike with historical data on bird strikes, which are proven to cause significant damage to manned aircraft and loss of human life. According to current estimates, bird strikes cost $951,000,000 per year in the U.S. alone. Therefore, the study concludes that the impact of a toy drone, made of plastic, metal, and engineered materials, with a manned aircraft in a collision would be even more catastrophic. The study examined what will happen when a collision occurs between a toy drone and a manned aircraft, including the potential for damage and death. The study further compared a toy drone strike with historical data on bird strikes, which are proven to cause significant damage to manned aircraft and loss of human life. According to current estimates, bird strikes cost $951,000,000 per year in the U.S. alone. Therefore, the study concludes that the impact of a toy drone, made of plastic, metal, and engineered materials, with a manned aircraft in a collision would be even more catastrophic. A thorough engineering study finds that even toy UASs pose risks of “catastrophic damage” to commercial aircraft in all phases of flight.


Technology Development and Research

→ Amazon shows off new prototype delivery drone—In a video posted to YouTube on Sunday (embedded below), Amazon showed off a new prototype drone it hopes to use to deliver small packages to customers in fewer than 30 minutes. Unlike a previous demonstration offered by Amazon that showed packages being carried below the drone, the new video shows the prototype accepting a package into its fuselage before delivery.


→ DJI gets serious about drones with its new $15,000 MG-1 for agriculturists—The Chinese manufacturer’s latest offering is designed to spray pesticides on crops from its 2.6-gallon tank. The eight-rotor drone can fly for about 12 minutes on a single charge. DJI says it can spray between seven and 10 acres of farmland per hour, depending on the terrain it has to cover. Of course, that doesn’t count the time it takes to charge its batteries.

→ Hybrid UAS: Benefits of Fixed Wing and Chopper in One Aircraft—”This UAS combines the pros of both the fixed wing and the chopper in one and the same aircraft.”q1010


→ US testing an ‘air traffic control system’ for drones—“Building technology that enables drones to fly reliably and to stay away from airports and other flying objects is stupidly difficult,” says Bob Young, CEO of PrecisionHawk.


Restrictions from other than the Federal Government

→ American Colleges Are Waging a Quiet War on Drones—Some institutions of higher learning are concerned about what may be flying overhead.

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