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Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer (2015)

Chapter: Chapter 2 - Introduction to UAS

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Introduction to UAS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Introduction to UAS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21907.
×
Page 7
Page 8
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Introduction to UAS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21907.
×
Page 8
Page 9
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Introduction to UAS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21907.
×
Page 9
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Introduction to UAS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21907.
×
Page 10

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6Ch ap te r 1 Ch ap te r 5 Ch ap te r 3 Ch ap te r 7 Ch ap te r 9 Ch ap te r 2 Ch ap te r 6 Ch ap te r 4 Ch ap te r 8 A pp en di ce s C H A P T E R 2 The UAS industry is still in its early stages in civil aviation but its growth is rapid. With much of the focus concentrated on small UAS, airports may not see the need to become knowledge- able about unmanned systems at this point in time. However, larger systems like the ones used by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security are flying in the NAS, albeit under strict constraints, and commercial use of similar systems is on the horizon. Also, current regulatory efforts are allowing small UAS more access to airspace across the country and may take place near airports. Airport operators will be well served in learning the ins and outs of UAS, both large and small, so the impact on airport operations is transparent to airport operators and users alike. This chapter addresses some of the ways UAS are currently used in the United States and how these uses might impact airport operations. As is continually mentioned in the primer, the industry is dynamic and growing rapidly; airport operators looking to be part of the industry should stay abreast of the latest developments. 2.1 The Evolving Spectrum of UAS The capability to fly unmanned, high performance aircraft from runways has existed for decades. The U.S. military has flown jet aircraft, such as the F-4 Phantom and F-86 Sabre, remotely since the late 1970s. In 1984, NASA and the FAA cooperated in a research project where a Boeing 720 (an air- craft similar to the 707 that was ultimately not produced in great numbers) was flown unmanned, controlled remotely, and deliberately crash landed to test the survivability characteristics of pas- senger aircraft. Technology to fly large aircraft from remote locations and land those aircraft safely on a runway, and even upon the flight decks of aircraft carriers, is a reality today. Given the rapid advances in unmanned aircraft technologies, regularly scheduled flights of unmanned aircraft may be a reality in the future for airports of all sizes. UAS come in many shapes and sizes and have a wide variety of performance capabilities. They range from the very small weighing less than 20 pounds (an example being the RQ-11 Raven), to the largest weighing as much as 32,250 pounds at takeoff and capable of traveling around the world while staying aloft for multiple days (RQ-4 Global Hawk). The FAA and other stakeholder agencies are working to safely integrate UAS into the NAS. These efforts are driven partly by the vision of the stakeholders, and partly by the desire of industry to realize the commercial poten- tial of UAS. Currently, outside of approved exceptions, the FAA generally prohibits commercial UAS use; however, more opportunities to fly are opening up. In order for the FAA to begin the process of understanding how commercial UAS and UAS in general can safely access the NAS, they have accepted applications for and approved operations at six national research and test sites. The sites are tasked with maintaining an environment for Introduction to UAS

Introduction to UAS 7 Chapter 1 Chapter 5 Chapter 3 Chapter 7 Chapter 9 Chapter 2 Chapter 6 Chapter 4 Chapter 8 A ppendices safe UAS operations and information gathering and provide feedback to the FAA on a frequent basis. Later in this primer, the six test locations are identified and discussed in greater detail. Most recently, the FAA has granted regulatory exemptions to numerous companies, chief among them being film and television production companies along with companies collecting aerial data, to fly small UAS to support their business activities. These exemptions are approved in accordance with Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which grants the Secretary of Transportation the ability to approve UAS operations in the NAS on a case-by-case basis in lieu of the grant of an airworthiness certificate. As of the end of May 2015, nearly 500 Section 333 exemp- tions have been approved by the FAA, with over 350 approved between mid-April and late-May 2015 alone. Section 333 exemptions are discussed further in Section 5.1 of the primer. Beginning Slowly at Airports UAS operations that involve airports will likely remain associated with government organizations in the near term. Interviews with FAA professionals revealed that the current focus of regulatory efforts will be on small UAS. As technical developments are made to address key safety issues (such as airborne detect-and-avoid systems, civil data links, and privacy and security issues), commercial UAS operations using larger UAS may begin to receive approval, and UAS flights in more populated areas and to larger airports where more sophisticated operations occur may begin to expand. It is likely that early civil and commercial airport operations will require additional observation resources to ensure traffic separation. As will be discussed in later chapters of the primer, UAS operations at airports mirror manned aircraft operations in many ways. Early successful operations at airports and military airfields have occurred at controlled airfields. Having air traffic control facilities help ensure safe and efficient traffic flow through added surveillance and monitoring. Additional “eyes on” at this stage of industry maturity may provide assistance to any operations. Key airport considerations will be mainly focused around providing the unique infrastructure that is needed to enable UAS operations and support, and the safety systems necessary to ensure an acceptable level of safe operations. Each System Is Unique As each airport is unique, so is each unmanned system. Every UAS has its own capabilities, nuances, and requirements. Each system needs to be analyzed separately, looking at vehicle size, vehicle performance, operator qualifications, operating procedures, and emergency profiles/procedures. Most of these are addressed during UAS certification, and may or may not be of concern to the airport operator. However, it will help the airport operator to understand the capabilities and restrictions of the systems so that challenges can be addressed proactively. With the proper planning and analysis, UAS have been able to operate at airports that support normal commercial operations. At Killeen/Fort Hood Regional Airport in Texas, the U.S. Army is operating the Grey Eagle UAS (MQ-1C) on a daily basis while a number of commercial air carriers transport passengers to and from the airport. Another airport on the verge of integrated operations is Syracuse Hancock International Airport in New York, which anticipates beginning UAS operations flown by the Air National Guard late in the summer of 2015. More detailed information and lessons learned on these two airports are provided in later primer chapters. 2.2 UAS Research Research on the uses of UAS and how unmanned aircraft can be safely integrated into the NAS is ongoing across the country. In December 2013, the FAA announced the selection of six UAS test site operators designated to provide locations and airspace where UAS research flights can be safely conducted, and thus provide the FAA with information on operations and

8 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer Ch ap te r 1 Ch ap te r 5 Ch ap te r 3 Ch ap te r 7 Ch ap te r 9 Ch ap te r 2 Ch ap te r 6 Ch ap te r 4 Ch ap te r 8 A pp en di ce s safety considerations leading toward the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the NAS. A number of leading universities are playing key roles in the conduct of research at the sites. Some of the test sites are conducting flights from airports and are gathering lessons that will likely be useful to the airport industry. National UAS Test Sites Each of the selected UAS test sites proposed areas of research activities in their proposals to the FAA. Some of the research areas are possible solutions to key concerns such as “sense and avoid” as a substitution for the accepted “see and avoid” concept for manned flight for collision avoidance, command and control, ground control station standards and human factors, air worthiness, lost link procedures, and the interface with the air traffic control system. Each operates under the rules and restrictions of an approved COA; a site can make its resources, facilities, and airspace available for research in any aspect of UAS flight. The test sites provide regular updates on activities to the FAA. The six selected test site operators, along with their initial proposed areas of research, are: • University of Alaska: Development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation, and safety standards for UAS operations • State of Nevada: Air traffic control procedures required with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment, and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen • New York’s Griffiss International Airport: Sense and avoid capabilities for UAS, and the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace • North Dakota Department of Commerce: UAS airworthiness essential data, high reliability link technology validation, and human factors research • Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi: System safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech): UAS failure mode testing and identification and evaluation of operational and technical risks areas Each selected test site will develop research plans that will further the advancement of UAS integration into the NAS. While each test site proposed areas of research concentration during the selection process, there are no restrictions on what research can be conducted by an individual site. Airport operators interested in participating in upcoming research projects are encouraged to contact the test site leads. Additional information on the national test sites can be found in Appendix A. Operational Test Sites On June 9, 2014, the State of Nevada’s test site became the third site to become operational. Some of the initial operations from the test site will be conducted from Desert Rock Airport, a private airport in Mercury, NV, owned and operated by the Department of Energy. Some of the initial flight operations will involve the Insitu ScanEagle, a small UAS that does require a runway to support operations. The purpose of the initial research with the ScanEagle will be to verify that UAS can be operated safety from an airport. On August 7, 2014, the Griffiss International Airport Test Site began approved operations. The first UAS operations in Griffiss Class D airspace were conducted in late October and early Novem- ber 2014. They involved test and demonstration flights in a segregated small-scale test area under FAA approved COAs. All flight test operations are being conducted in the NAS. The initial UAS flying has involved limited small-scale testing in a segregated area on the airport under a COA. Flight tests were under air traffic control supervision at low altitudes, and involved line-of-sight operation. Additionally, engineering flight testing and demonstration flights have also been carried out using optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) with a safety pilot on board the aircraft. Lessons learned from some of the tests sites are provided in Chapter 3 of the primer.

Introduction to UAS 9 Chapter 1 Chapter 5 Chapter 3 Chapter 7 Chapter 9 Chapter 2 Chapter 6 Chapter 4 Chapter 8 A ppendices UAS Center of Excellence In May 2014, the FAA released a draft solicitation for the organization of a Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The goal is to create a cost sharing relationship between academia, industry, and government that will focus on research areas of primary interest to the FAA and the U.S. UAS community as a whole. The COE will assist in researching all areas of UAS operations and application, to include challenges that airport operators will likely face when integrating UAS. On May 8, 2015, the FAA announced the selection of a team lead by Mississippi State Uni- versity as the COE. Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) is the name of the UAS. ASSURE consists of 21 research universities, and nearly 100 industry and government partners representing 15 different countries. According to the final solicitation for the COE released by the FAA on August 14, 2014, one of the 11 initial areas of research for the COE will be airport ground operations. This research area will explore such issues as the ability for a remotely located pilot to read airport signage, taxi about the movement area using existing taxiways, and follow air traffic control (ATC) instruc- tions that allow for the interaction and avoidance of collisions with manned aircraft. The initial organizational meetings of the ASSURE team members took place in early June 2015. More information on ASSURE can be found at http://www.assureuas.org/. 2.3 UAS Operations from Airports Now and in the Future Most of the UAS operations requiring runways are currently conducted by the U.S. military and other government agencies. The FAA anticipates that this will be the case for a period of time. Some of these agencies operate from civil airports and some from joint-use airfields flying a variety of missions both training and operational. Two examples of government UAS that oper- ate from airports are discussed briefly here to illustrate how UAS using runways are integrating with manned aircraft. UAS at VCV The Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV) in Victorville, CA, is the old George Air Force Base. VCV is host to units of the California Air National Guard and UAS have been flown there for years. Operations at VCV include MQ-1 Predator aircraft with the Guard units looking to operate the MQ-9 Reaper in the near future. A key fact about the UAS operations at VCV is that they are integrated with manned aircraft operations and traffic are controlled by a contract tower. While the airport does not have scheduled commercial air carrier service, the UAS operators and ATC developed techniques and processes to allow for safe manned and unmanned operations. The aircraft fly under the rules and restrictions set in an FAA approved COA established for Air National Guard UAS operations from VCV. Under the COA rules at VCV, manned aircraft operations and unmanned aircraft operations are segregated. If a UAS is scheduled to fly, the airport issues a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and all manned aircraft movements are held until the UAS is airborne and outside of the Class D airspace. If a UAS is airborne, perhaps in the landing pattern conducting training circuits, and a manned aircraft is on arrival to the airport, the UAS is directed to a preplanned holding point where it loiters until the manned aircraft has landed. For those flying the aircraft, controlling the UAS from the tower, or managing the operations at VCV, dealing with UAS operations at the airport resulted in very little change to the way busi- ness is done. Outside the current restrictions that keep the different aircraft types from mixing, the UAS operate like a manned aircraft; they are just smaller and harder to see. More lessons learned from VCV are provided in Chapter 3 of the primer.

10 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer Ch ap te r 1 Ch ap te r 5 Ch ap te r 3 Ch ap te r 7 Ch ap te r 9 Ch ap te r 2 Ch ap te r 6 Ch ap te r 4 Ch ap te r 8 A pp en di ce s UAS Supporting the Department of the Interior The Department of the Interior (DOI) operates a large fleet of unmanned aircraft. Currently all of their aircraft are runway independent, using launch and recovery systems that can be transported to the remote regions of the country the DOI manages. Most of the missions flown by the DOI UAS are conducted in sparsely populated areas far from an airport that could support the aircraft. The DOI flies unmanned aircraft to perform such missions as wildfire observation, wildlife tracking, and environmental observation. In addition to these internal missions, the DOI has teamed with the California Air National Guard to use UAS to assist in monitoring large wildfires in the western United States. The Director of Aviation for the DOI envisions that unmanned aircraft will play important roles in augmenting airborne wildfire fighting operations in the future. As an example illustrating this capability, MQ-1 Predator aircraft from the 163rd Reconnais- sance Wing of the California Air National Guard flew support missions during the fighting of the large Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park in the summer of 2013. Operating from their home base at the March Air Reserve Base, the UAS were able to fly to the fire sites, operate for approximately 20 hours per day transmitting real-time electro-optic and infrared video, and help California fire incident commanders on the ground make more informed decisions to help save property, infrastructure, and lives. The DOI envisions that UAS will be used not only to monitor fires but to fight them from the air as well. The size of the aircraft necessary to carry and drop fire retardant or water will require airport facilities for support. An option for this type of mission might be pilot-optional aircraft, such as the Kaman K-Max Unmanned Aerial Truck, or perhaps specially configured helicopters, such as the Little Bird or UH-60 Blackhawk. Having such aircraft available with the option to be flown to and from the airport by a pilot to the area of operations could simplify the chal- lenges facing airports while enhancing mission capabilities for the operators. Such unmanned assets could potentially augment aerial firefighting efforts with a night flying capability currently assessed to be too risky for manned aircraft.

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 144: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer provides airports of all sizes with information about unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and their potential use and impact on airports. The report includes a glossary of key terms, a background on the current state of UAS operations, UAS costs and benefits to airports, regulatory and community considerations, UAS infrastructure and operational considerations, UAS safety and security issues, and more.

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