Early-Year UAS Buzz

From spectrum, to standards to the FAA's NPRM, their will be several major moments or industry changes in 2016.
By UAS Magazine Staff | January 16, 2016

Early-Year UAS Buzz

For the 17th year in a row, unmanned aircraft systems experts, thought leaders and high-ranking officials from the defense, government, research and regulatory communities gathered in New Mexico to talk UAS shop. From updates on groundbreaking UAS traffic management research to rollout plans for future DOD use of UAS, attendees at the Technical Analysis and Applications Center event uncovered several major topics that will be talked about in 2016.

Spectrum of Choice

Kyle Synder, director of the NextGen Air Transportation Group at North Carolina State University,  highlighted the growing concern of many in the industry—and several at the event—regarding the
appropriate communication spectrum capable of serving UAS operations in command and control
situations. While GPS operates in the L-band spectrum, it is possible that the L-band will not be a
possibility for future use. Synder and his team are researching spectrum issues and cyber security
concerns in 2016.

UAS Standards on the Way

For the past two years, RTCA SC-228 has been tasked with creating minimum operational
performance standards for UAS. According to Paul McDuffee, RTCA committee co-chair and
Insitu spokesperson, the group expects to release its standards in 2016. ASTM’s committee
F-38 on UAS also expects to have UAS standards and certification requirements out in 2016.

Moving Past the NPRM

Earl Lawrence, one of the new faces of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS team, is pushing a culture shift in the FAA. He is also reminding the industry that following the release of the small UAS rule, the FAA is extremely focused on making beyond visual line of sight, (BVLOS) night operations and other operational wants of the industry a reality as soon as possible.

Enter the Type Class Certification

To allow BVLOS and other such operations, the FAA considers the type class certification process the quickest path to fulfillment. A handful of UAS manufacturers have pushed to have their respective platforms certified and many more are expected to do so in 2016 and beyond, according to Lawrence.

Counter UAS Tech

CACI, the company chosen by the FAA to showcase a nonkinetic option to mitigating unwanted sUAS risk surrounding a defined perimeter—in the FAA’s case an airport—will test its unique, military-based technology in 2016. The company won’t be the only one to do so, however. Several other major aerospace providers have announced plans to test or sell similar technology.

Assure Building an Empire

The group tasked with leading the FAA’s UAS Center of Excellence has not only brought together a multitude of research institutions and private entities to talk UAS, in 2016 the team has more than 12 research initiatives planned. The group is also forming working plans with private firms to model business cases or end-use application real-life operational scenarios.