Slowly but surely, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are entering the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) despite a regulatory regime that was previously considered prohibitive to all but government agencies and research institutions. Unmanned aircraft have flown for the first time commercially in remote Arctic airspace, and companies are considering or have already begun the process of obtaining FAA airworthiness certification of their UAS designs.
With the first commercial flight of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) now accomplished, at least two other potential certification efforts are under way for unmanned aircraft that would fly at opposite extremes of the airspace if the Federal Aviation Administration approves them.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects that energy company ConocoPhillips will make the first commercial flight of an unmanned aircraft today. Under a restricted category type certification the FAA awarded in July, ConocoPhillips will launch an Insitu ScanEagle from the research vessel Westward Wind in the Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean west of Alaska.
Two years from the September 2015 deadline the U.S. Congress established to introduce unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) into the nation’s airspace system, airline pilots are engaged in the process of developing standards and practices that UAS operators will follow.
The next steps toward wider introduction of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the U.S. airspace system were within line of sight as the industry gathered for its largest conference last month in Washington, D.C. Federal government officials said that a long-delayed proposed rulemaking for operations of small UAS weighing up to 55 pounds will be released by the end of the year. Also by year-end, the FAA will designate six UAS test ranges in a program sought by 24 states.
The U.S. government should release a draft regulation governing the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) by the end of the year, federal officials told the Unmanned Systems Conference this week.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued type certificates in the restricted category to the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle X200 and AeroVironment Puma AE small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on July 19, for the first time permitting operators to use the aircraft for commercial purposes.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects to formulate a standard by 2016 that will permit unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to interoperate with manned aircraft using an “electronic means” to see and avoid potential collisions, according to the executive leading the FAA’s effort to introduce UAS into the airspace system.
The U.S. Navy declared the P-8A Poseidon ready to join the fleet following completion of the aircraft’s initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) phase. The Navy issued its IOT&E report on July 1, according to the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair). The service conducted testing from last September to March.
Boeing’s Insitu subsidiary won a UK competition to provide unmanned maritime surveillance system on Royal Navy frigates and support ships. Insitu will provide the ScanEagle UAS under an initial two-year $45 million contractor-owned, contractor-operated (coco) contract. EADS Cassidian, Lockheed Martin and QinetiQ were also invited to bid for the deal. Insitu has executed similar “coco” contracts for other ScanEagle customers.