The UAS certification process has many steps after the first interim Type Certification Board Meeting

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Insitu Collaborates With the Federal Aviation Administration to Demonstrate Achievement of Unmanned Air System Type Certification Requirements

Good first step in certification process

FAA working on Type Certification Standards

 UAS potential will require time until becomes REAL

Press Release-

Bingen, Wash., October 23, 2018 – Insitu, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company, has successfully completed the first interim Type Certification Board Meeting (TCBM) in support of the ScanEagle3 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certification program.

Recently, key FAA teams including Aircraft Certification (AIR), Aircraft Flight Status {SIC: Aviation Flight Standards} (AFS), Air Traffic Organization (ATO), and Aircraft Unmanned Systems (AUS) came together at Insitu’s headquarters in Bingen, Washington for the TCBM, a first for the group of FAA teams. The FAA teams participated in an overview of Insitu’s Project Plan for Certification, examining Insitu’s “Detect and Avoid” (DAA) capability planning, along with its Safety Management System and proprietary model–based engineering. The three-day agenda included launch-to-capture flight tests, as well as standards, flight training and technical publications and manuals reviews to ascertain Insitu’s proposed basis for 2019 UAS Type Certification.

Insitu demonstrated its stringent culture of safety which mirrors the FAA’s extremely strict safety standards, exhibited the ScanEagle3’s innovative design and technology milestones that it has reached, as well as the fact that it is a mature aircraft company. The aircraft type certification (TC) under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 21.17(b) requires that an aircraft and its subassemblies are manufactured according to the approved design (known as the “type”) and that the design ensures compliance with appropriate standards. At that point a standard Certificate for a special class vehicle (UAS) will be issued by the FAA.

“This exercise was to underscore our collaboration with the FAA, and to be completely transparent with our engineering details, software, and proprietary information,” said Jeff Raymond, Insitu Program Manager. “We are very forward thinking in working with the FAA to ensure UAS safe integration into the National Airspace System (NAS), enabling the many uses for UAS. These uses include data collection, analysis and delivery; aerial infrastructure survey; disaster recovery; wildfire suppression, and many more,” Raymond continued. “This certification will allow us to operate UAS without delay — which currently is due to seeking permits and temporary flight restrictions — making us agile and ready to serve at a moment’s notice.”


This Press Release speaks in optimistic terms and many who embrace the UAS as a disruptive technology with so many applications that can only be limited by human imagination.

Insitu should take credit for meeting with the FAA and discussing (presumably not seeking agency approval) of:

  • Its “Project Plan for Certification,
  • examining Insitu’s “Detect and Avoid” (DAA) capability planning,
  • its Safety Management System
  • proprietary model–based engineering

Open communication and transparency are critical to any aircraft certification.

However, as highlighted by the graphic at the head of this post and a timeline described by Mike Borfitz, the work remaining is substantial. EASA has made a MOST preliminary step in opening a public consultation (translation to US terminology= docket) for the public to comment on how it might certificate vertical take-off and landing aircraft. The Proposed Special Condition for small-category VTOL aircraft is a 27 page document which directs attention to a number of critical issues.

The FAA has issued 8000.372A – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Designated Airworthiness Representatives (DAR) for UAS Certification at UAS Test and 8130.34D – Airworthiness Certification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Optionally Piloted Aircraft. The first document established the required qualifications in order for an applicant to perform certification tests for the Administrator; the second articulates what a test aircraft must show in order to be allowed to fly in certification flights.

More specifically, before the ScanEagle3 flies, here is a short list of the tasks which must be carefully completed before VTOLs are authorized to operate:



Type Certification – 3-5 years

Design and performance – payload, range and endurance as well as footprint

Propulsion system

Aircraft maturity and target aircraft operational date

Human factors and passenger ingress and egress

Mission suitability


Cyber Security

Detection and Avoidance

 Air Traffic Management and airspace integration


Batteries; energy density and safety

Business Model

Public acceptance

Demand forecast

Price points, fare system and customer profile

Route structure

ownership, operation and maintenance model(s)

Risk Management and Safety (RAMS)

Program and business risks

System safety risks

Aircraft risks

Safety Management System implementation


Take-off and landing stations and buildings currently in place?

Monitor, communications and control command center

Ground support and safety and security systems, passenger facilities

Legal and Regulatory Requirements

certification plan and schedule

Operator certification

repair station certification

Operating rules

Landing/take-off station certification or approval

Noise and environmental assessment

Route structure

ownership, operation and maintenance model(s)

Federal, State and municipal regulations

Risk Management and Safety (RAMS)

Program and business risks

System safety risks

AAV risks

Safety Management System implementation

The resources needed for the federal regulators to accomplish all of these tasks could be overwhelming. While some would urge the safety review to be performed on an expedited basis, these is a bureaucrat euphemism “If you want it badly, likely you will get it badly.” There are some clear risks which merit close scrutiny. For example, the eVTOLs will depend on batteries for power. The technology for this “powerplant” is very comparable to the Ion Lithium Batteries which proved to be a challenge for the B-787s and some smart phones. This is but one of several technical issues to be assessed.

An interim Type Certification Board Meeting is an important first step, but the issuance of a Type Certificate, a Production Certificate and an Airworthiness Certificate will take a while.





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