The rate of UAS technology innovation will likely exceed the FAA’s ability to define safety rules for these performance increases

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Technology has created an innovative vehicle, the UAS, which likely will cause a dramatic explosion of the uses of these vehicles. The FAA has the difficult, if not impossible, task of defining rules which will assure safety of this emerging technology. The below article announces a development which poses further challenges to safe flight.

UAV Turbines (UAVT) is the innovator here. The company announced a new gas turbine for the Unmanned Aircraft System operation. Its new machines will generate 30 to 150 horsepower thus increasing “reliability, flight duration, payloads, and operational ceilings, while greatly reducing noise.” These motors’ efficiency translates to lower fuel consumption. Additionally the engineers have developed a turbine which has great maintenance characteristics—a mean time between overhaul in thousands of hours.

Such a light, powerful powerplant poses further challenges to the regulator. At high speeds, for example, can an automated “sense and avoid” system minimize the risk of inflight interceptions? The sophistication needed to maintain these high performance turbines may require that a prospective operator demonstrate greater mechanical engineering knowledge and practical skills.

As technology escalates and as the increases in the speed/size/lifting weight/ operational ceilings are rolled out, the FAA will have to review and revise its existing regulatory standards. What is predictable is that the time to develop such transformational UAS capabilities will be a fraction of the time needed to issue and implement new rules. The FAA appears to be doomed to be behind the pace of UAS innovation.

ARTICLE: New Gas Turbine Engines For UAS Introduced

ARTICLE: UAV Turbines Launches Next-Generation Gas Turbine Engine Technology For Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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