The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will appoint an ad hoc committee with representation from industry, academia, and government to undertake a study to evaluate the potential of probabilistic assessments of risks and other risk assessment methods for streamlining the process of integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System and identify supporting research and development opportunities in this field. The committee will execute the following tasks:
- Consider recent, current, and planned FAA efforts to evaluate the risks associated with the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System and risk assessment methods.
- Consider mechanisms for assessing severity and likelihood metrics required for probabilistic and other appropriate risk assessment methods based on UAS design characteristics (e.g., weight, speed, materials, and technologies) and operational characteristics (e.g., airspace characteristics, population density, and whether they are piloted remotely or autonomously).
- Determine how the scope and detail required of risk assessment methods may vary for different sizes and operations of UAS (e.g., Part 107 versus Part 91 operations) or whether a certain class of UAS (micro, etc.) could be operated with the assumption they are inherently low risk.
- Evaluate other methods that could reasonably be used to evaluate the risks of UAS integration in the National Airspace System. What are the benefits and limitations of these alternative methods? How do these alternative methods compare to probabilistic risk assessment methods as well as severity and likelihood metrics traditionally used by the FAA for manned aircraft?
- What state of the art assessment methods are currently in use by industry, academia, other agencies of the U.S. government, or other international civil aviation authorities that could benefit the FAA?
- What are the key advancements or goals for performance-based expanded UAS operations in the National Airspace System that can reasonably be achieved through the application of the recommended risk assessment methods in the short term (1-5 years), midterm (5-10 years), and longer term (10-20 years)?
- What are the key challenges or barriers that must be overcome to implement the recommended risk assessment methods in order to attain these key goals?
- In light of ongoing research and likely advances in risk assessment methods by other organizations, what research and development projects related to risk assessment methods should be the highest priority for the FAA?
- Are there other related recommendations to streamline FAA processes (not governed by regulation) that would either improve the effectiveness of risk assessment methods for integration of UAS into the National Airspace System or expedite the development of such methods?
The committee may also comment on the effectiveness of risk assessment methods as they pertain to decision making and different modes of UAS operations. However, the committee will not recommend changes to regulations governing UAS operations, nor will the study recommend changes to the organization of the FAA. The scope of this study includes UAS certification as well as operational approval.