NASA’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL TO EDUCATE PUBLIC

About a year ago NASA created their own YouTube channel in order to provide the wider public with entertaining and informative way to learn about science, Earth, our Solar system and more. The videos are a collaboration of NASA’s astrophysicists, agency narrators and videographers. The videos are posted every Thursday around 4PM EDT. Future episodes […]
About a year ago NASA created their own YouTube channel in order to provide the wider public with entertaining and informative way to learn about science, Earth, our Solar system and more. The videos are a collaboration of NASA’s astrophysicists, agency narrators and videographers. The videos are posted every Thursday around 4PM EDT. Future episodes will focus on citizen science research; the search for new galaxies; how to watch this summer’s Perseid meteor shower; and the causes of recent wild weather events in the United States. The below episodes are the most recent. ZombieSat

Just when you thought it was safe to orbit Earth: Researchers say solar storms can turn satellites into zombies!

Power Of Sea Salt

Aquarius is the first NASA sensor to track ocean salinity from space, and aims to help uncover how the salinity of Earth’s oceans are effecting our climate.

Big Surprise

NASA’s Voyager probes have reached the edge of the solar system and found something surprising there–a froth of magnetic bubbles separating us from the rest of the galaxy.

Applied Technology Institute’s space, satellite, and aerospace engineering technical training classes deliver the highest quality professional development and continuing education training in the field of space, satellite, and aerospace engineering. Our industry leading instructors provide course attendees with both practical and technical knowledge necessary to excel in the field of satellite, aerospace, and space engineering. To view video of our courses please visit ATI YouTube channel.


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Do You Have a Need to Know about Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)?

MQ-9 Reaper Taxis Down the Runway Video Clip: Click to Watch ATI offers Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) course Worldwide commercial, government and military use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is expected to increase significantly in the future, placing unprecedented demands on scare radio resources. In fact, the Teal Group’s 2009 market study estimates that UAS spending […]
MQ-9 Reaper Taxis Down the Runway
MQ-9 Reaper Taxis Down the Runway
Video Clip: Click to Watch
ATI offers Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) course
Worldwide commercial, government and military use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is expected to increase significantly in the future, placing unprecedented demands on scare radio resources. In fact, the Teal Group’s 2009 market study estimates that UAS spending will almost double over the next decade, from current worldwide UAS expenditures of $4.4 billion annually to $8.7 billion within a decade
Will YOU need to learn more about this exciting field?
Applied Technology Institute (ATI) is pleased to announce their one-day short course on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Since 1984, the Applied Technology Institute (ATI) has provided leading-edge public courses and onsite technical training to DoD and NASA personnel, as well as contractors. With the practical knowledge you will gain from this course, you can recognize the different classes and types of UAVs, how to optimize their specific applications, how to evaluate and compare UAS capabilities, interact meaningfully with colleagues and master the UAS terminology. Are UAVs coming to airspace near you? Do you want to learn more about UAS but: • Don’t have time for a full semester course? • Is the nearest campus all the way across town? • Can’t move to North Dakota for an undergrad degree in UAS? If one or more of situations apply to you or you are just in need of more UAS-related knowledge, then boost your career with the information needed to provide better, faster, and cheaper solutions for your customers. Why not take our UAS short course instead? This one-day course is designed to help you keep your professional knowledge up-to-date on the use, regulation and development of these complex systems. Course Outline, Samplers, and Notes If you sign up for this class, whether you are a busy engineer, a technical expert or a project manager, you will enhance your understanding of these complex systems in a short time. Here is the instructor, Mr. Mark N. Lewellen, with an introduction to his class on YouTube.

Still not convinced? Then please see our UAS Course Slide Sampler with actual course materials. After attending the course you will receive a full set of detailed notes from the class for future reference, as well as a certificate of completion. Please visit our website for more valuable information.


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Watch Quadrotor Drone UAV Playing Catch at the Flying Machine Arena research facility at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Zurich

Have your played catch with your UAV today? IF you want to learn more about UAVs and see more videos, see my Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications course at http://www.aticourses.com/unmanned_aircraft_systems.html
Have your played catch with your UAV today?

IF you want to learn more about UAVs and see more videos, see my Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications course at http://www.aticourses.com/unmanned_aircraft_systems.html


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Persistent surveillance on a non-satellite budget is goal of U.S. military airship development

Tony White, Owner at Galaxy Blimps LLC and a member of my LinkedIn UAS group, is quoted extensively in this article. I used to work for an airship startup called SkyStation International and they do have their advantages (and disadvantages to be sure). They (and aerostats) also work well with UAS. Going back as far […]
Tony White, Owner at Galaxy Blimps LLC and a member of my LinkedIn UAS group, is quoted extensively in this article. I used to work for an airship startup called SkyStation International and they do have their advantages (and disadvantages to be sure). They (and aerostats) also work well with UAS. Going back as far as the American Civil War,lighter-than-air vehicles — airships, hot air balloons, and aerostats — have performed a variety of missions for the military. During World War I large military airships dropped bombs and performed surveillance. For a brief period of time in the 1930s the U.S. explored using them as “flying aircraft carriers,” says Ron Browning business development lead for persistent surveillance at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors in Akron, Ohio. Today, U.S. forces deploy these floating platforms as eyes in the sky in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world to perform persistent surveillance, which means missions that last days, weeks, and even months up in the air. “Persistent surveillance is around the clock — 24/7 — monitoring for an extended period of time, monitoring that is in stark contrast to that provided by aircraft, which have surveillance-time limitations dictated by fuel consumption/capacity,” says Maj. Robert Rugg, assistant product manager persistent surveillance devices for the U.S. Army Program Manager Robotic and Unmanned Systems office in Huntsville, Ala. There are two main types of lighter-than-air vehicles used or in development for military operations — airships and aerostats, Browning says. “An aerostat is tethered while an airship is free flying,” he explains. Two free-flying programs in development are the High Altitude Airship (HAA) being developed by Browning’s team at Lockheed Martin and the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), being designed by Northrop Grumman in Melbourne, Fla., for medium altitudes, Browning says. They are both airship platforms. Aerostats The most deployed vehicles at the moment are aerostats, which often are used with unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) or as a relatively inexpensive replacement to UASs to provide non-stop coverage of strategic areas. “Aerostats are capable of continuous coverage over (typically) a fixed area in a wide range of operational weather conditions,” Rugg says. “UASs have a reduced operational environment and cannot continuously remain in the air for an extended period of time. However, the extended mobility provided by a UAS allows for a better view of a particular point of interest. In this way, each system is able to capitalize on its inherent advantage, while propping up the limiting aspects of the other — optimally, a force is able to utilize both systems as complementary to each other. Aerostats and free-flying airships also are under consideration for border control instead of UASs, says Tony White, owner of Galaxy Blimps in Dallas — www.galaxyblimps.com. A UAS does not work as well on the border due to the coverage advantages that a host of aerostats airships would have, he continues. While not easy at first to steer aerostats are more rugged than one might think. “We also can launch into heavy winds, while UASs can’t,” White says. Even in 70 knot winds in Afghanistan, aerostats were able to hold their position in the mooring station, White says. Aerostats are not as vulnerable to enemy attack as one might assume, Browning says. “We’re flying at the upper limit to be vulnerable to small arms fire,” he adds. As Aerostats are low pressure systems so if a bullet hole or other hole pops up it “doesn’t go pop like a party balloon” Browning says. Instead the helium oozes out instead of gassing out, with degradation in lift altitude occurring over time instead of instantly, he explains. “It can fly when nothing else is flying,” Browning says. “Despite the innovative nature of the systems, aerostats, in fact, have the great advantage of payload integration and flight qualification timelines that are much shorter than that of other aircraft,” Rugg continues. “Moreover, aerostats are typically more flexible in terms of the payloads they are able to carry. Weight limitations are the paramount issue with aerostats; some aircraft have lots of available size, weight, and power (SWAP).” Persistent threat detection One aerostat program currently seeing action in Iraq and Afghanistan is the Army’s Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS), which has been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan during Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom respectively, Browning says. PTDS is run by Rugg’s team in Huntsville produced by prime contractor Lockheed Martin. PTDS is a tethered system, which flies like a kite with no propulsion, Browning says. The system, first deployed by the Army in 2004, is a 74,000-cubic-foot envelope full of helium and aerodynamically-shaped always pointed into the wind with fins and a tail system and is always buoyant, he adds. The maximum altitude is 5,000 feet above ground level, Browning says. “PTDS has the unique sustained operations capability that exceeds 20 continuous days,” Rugg notes. The system carries one or two electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor payloads as well as other communications payloads, Rugg says. The EO sensors are mostly commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS), he adds. The EO/IR payload — the MX-20 Lite from L-3 Wescam in Toronto, Ontario — is attached on the underside of the aerostat, Browning says. The MX-20 is a turret system that uses high-definition technology, says Paul Jennison, vice president of business development for L-3 Wescam. Included in the system is digital infrared capability, a color daylight camera, mono camera for night, and lasers for range finding and illumination — that illuminates targets for ground for troops who have night vision goggles, he continues. The only real adjustment made for the aerostat application was adding a heat exchanger for thermal management in the static air, Jennison says. “Our system also has gone through the full spectrum of MIL-STD testing for humidity, salt, fog, and dust environments,” he adds. The PTDS communication links have extended range for deployed troops, Browning says. The sensor can provide full-motion vision to the warfighter on the ground. “Imagine the value of that to combat teams,” Browning adds. “Based on experience in theater, a second EO/IR sensor has been added. Furthermore, due to on site weather conditions, lightning detection equipment has been added, as well as the ability to broadcast video to mobile troops carrying OSRVT (One System Remote Video Terminal),” Rugg says. “Additionally, the mooring system has been modularized to allow transport to more remote forward operating bases.” In addition to the aerostat, tether, and sensor payload, PTDS also has a mobile mooring platform, mission payloads, ground-control station, maintenance and officer shelter, power generators, and site-handling equipment, Browning says. The ground-control station for an aerostat is typically on site, Rugg says. These ground-control stations are not that different from that of a UAS ground station, and “include such elements as operator consoles, workstations, tactical setup. The operating crew for a ground station is the same crew that launches and recovers the aerostat,” he adds. Most of the electronics in the ground-control station is COTS, Rugg says. “There are two workstations for command and control of EO/IR sensors, networking equipment, UPS, aerostat flight control and monitoring computer and display as well as an Unattended Transient Acoustic MASINT Sensor (UTAMS) computer. UTAMS is an acoustic fire-detection sensor capable of locating point of impact/origin of rockets, mortars, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).” High-altitude airships Lockheed Martin’s HAA — being developed for the Army — will act as a surveillance platform, telecommunications relay, or a weather observer, Browning says. Different electro-optic sensor payloads will be configured for different intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, he continues. Once it reaches its location it can survey a 600-mile diameter and millions of cubic miles of airspace. In April 2008, the HAA program transferred from the Missile Defense Agency to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, located at Huntsville, Ala. The command designing the HAA to align with the command’s mission “The big thing to understand is that no lighter than airship has ever flown more than a few hours at more than 60,000 feet,” let alone six months, Browning says. Conventional airships have demonstrated days of endurance in the past.  Current blimps for sporting events can fly for 12 plus hours, depending on conditions, he adds. The HAA will be about 500 feet long and 150 feet high, and be airborne for six months or more at a time, Browning says. It will be launched to an area of interest and park there, he continues. It will have a sensor communication link capability for deployed troops on field to get where they want to get to, Browning adds. “We are currently developing and demonstrating the high altitude airship concept,” Browning says. The demonstration program is called the High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D), he adds. HALE-D will fly this summer air at an altitude of 60,000 ft and operating for a couple weeks using small, modest payload consistent with the demonstration, Browning says. Free flying aircraft steer and navigate from one location to another so the all-electric HALE-D will need to operate at neutral buoyancy, Browning says. Goodyear blimps are always scary, taking off with heavy with fuel, which then burns, making the aircraft more light and buoyant. One way to avoid that problem at take off is by having all-electric system that uses solar energy panels and stores the energy in batteries or rechargeable fuel cells for night flying. Propulsion units will lift the HALE-D aloft and guide its takeoff and landing during, Browning says. The long-term operational goal — beyond the HALE-D is large with more than ton of payload onboard the HAA, Browning says. The large payload berth provides a lot of flexibility in payload design and capability, he continues. “It can really open the imagination of the sensor designer,” Browning adds. The sensor technology is already available on a lot of aircraft, Browning says. However as with some existing airborne and spaceborne platforms the biggest challenge is reliability. Once the system is launched it won’t be brought down for several months, so you need sensors that last in tough environments. The HALE-D sensors include a Thales MMAR modem, an L-3 Communications mini CDL, and an electro-optical system from ITT Geospatial Systems in Rochester, N.Y., Browning says. ITT provided a long focal-length panchromatic electro-optical (EO) camera with GPS/Inertial Navigation System (INS) and pointing capability for the HALE-D program, says David A. Parkes, senior business development manager at ITT Geospatial Systems. “An unmanned high-altitude platform does bring unique challenges in designing EO solutions,” Parkes says. “First, it’s very high flight altitudes bring very cold temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius and little air, which makes it challenging to both start up and maintaining proper electronics temperatures. It is more space-like than airborne. The ascent to these high altitudes also drives the need for all components to be able to outgas, so they are not damaged (e.g. optical lens). The second challenge is that current payload capacities for high altitude platforms are relatively small, which drives the need for very light weight and low power payloads.” “The objectives and funding of this EO system were primarily for functional demonstration on this exciting high-altitude platform,” Parkes continues. “This drove a highly COTS-based solution. Future high-altitude EO systems will require designs that provide higher performance and high reliability that will leverage space systems designs without space system costs.” Long-endurance airships Northrop Grumman’s LEMV program completed its critical design review (CDR) six months after signing the agreement with the U.S. Army. Under that agreement the company will build three airships with 21-day persistent ISR capability, according to a Northrop Grumman release. Northrop Grumman officials declined to be interviewed for this story. “The power of the LEMV system is that its persistent surveillance capability is built around Northrop Grumman’s open architecture design, which provides plug-and-play payload capability to the warfighter and room for mission growth,” says Alan Metzger, Northrop Grumman vice president and integrated program team leader of LEMV and airship programs in the company release. “The system rapidly accommodates next-generation sensors as emerging field requirements dictate and will provide increased operational utility to battlefield commanders. Today, our system readily integrates into the Army’s existing Universal Ground Control Station and Deployable Common Ground System command centers and ground troops in forward operating bases. “While LEMV is longer than a football field and taller than a seven-story building, it utilizes approximately 3,500 gallons of fuel for the air vehicle to remain aloft for a 21-day period of service, that’s approximately $11,000 at commercial prices. “We’ll have hull inflation in the spring and first flight of the airship test article by mid-to-late summer,” he says. Upon completion of the development ground and flight testing phase, we expect to transition to a government facility and conduct our final acceptance long endurance flight just before year’s end. In early 2012, LEMV will participate in an Army Joint Military Utility Assessment in an operational environment.” Northrop Grumman’s industry team includes Hybrid Air Vehicles, Ltd. of the England, Warwick Mills, ILC Dover, AAI Corp., SAIC in McLean, Va., and a team of organizations from 18 U.S. states and three countries. In addition to leading the program, Northrop Grumman leads the system integration, and flight and ground control operations for the unmanned vehicle. http://www.militaryaerospace.com/index/display/article-display/2737597448/articles/military-aerospace-electronics/exclusive-content/2011/3/persistent-surveillance.html


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ADDRESSING UAS INVESTIGATION AND REPORTING

ATI offers Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications course that is scheduled to be presented on the dates below. Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications Mar 1, 2011 Beltsville, MD Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications Jun 7, 2011 Dayton, OH Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications Jun 14, 2011 Beltsville, MD This article was published by By Tom Farrier(M03763), […]

ATI offers Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications course that is scheduled to be presented on the dates below.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications Mar 1, 2011 Beltsville, MD
Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications Jun 7, 2011 Dayton, OH
Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Applications Jun 14, 2011 Beltsville, MD

This article was published by By Tom Farrier(M03763), Chairman, ISASI Unmanned Aircraft Systems Working Group in the International Society of Air Safety Investigators newsletter the ISASI Forum.

The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) regulatory landscape continues to evolve as the NTSB sets reporting criteria and the FAA ponders rulemaking.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently published a final rule establishing Treporting criteria for Unmanned

Aircraft System (UAS) related accidents.

This article offers an early look at the

course this influential independent safety

board is charting in its quest to promote

safety in the emerging UAS sector.

Although unmanned aircraft systems

(the operational combination of unmanned

aircraft and their ground control compo

nent) receive extensive and regular news

media coverage, operations in shared air-

space are still an immature and evolving

sector of aviation. This isn’t to say that

UAS are unsophisticated. On the con

trary, many high-end unmanned aircraft

are complex and highly capable, and the

vast majority of the UAS across the size

spectrum are extremely well suited to the

missions for which they’re built. However,

they also are of highly variable reliability

from system to system, and the lack of

an onboard pilot makes them uniquely

vulnerable to failures of the electronic

link through which they are controlled. So

for at least the next several years, they’re

unlikely to be operated at will in any air-

space where their lack of an equivalent

to a “see-and-avoid” capability might put

manned aircraft at risk.

Even given the above, the desired end

state for UAS operations often is referred to as “integration”: the expectation that UAS eventually will he capable of operating in a manner indistinguishable from other aircraft and will be allowed to do so on a file-and-fly basis, in all classes of airspace, and at the users’ discretion. Both regulatory and investigative entities in a number of countries are beginning to work toward this outcome. But just as different types of UAS are in different stages of readiness to make such a leap, there are many paths being taken toward it.

Differences between manned and unmanned aircraft

For readers new to UAS issues, it’s important to highlight two of the most critical differences between manned and unmanned aircraft. First, by definition, the pilot of an unmanned aircraft is physically separated from that aircraft. So there has to be an electronic connection between the two.

The “control link,” also referred to as the “uplink” in some systems, is the path through which the UAS pilot directs the unmanned aircraft’s trajectory: Currently, for all but the most sophisticated systems, the control link offers a unique source of single-point failure potential. Even for the high-end systems, safe recovery following loss of control link may require hundreds or even thousands of miles of autonomous flight for a satellite-controlled unmanned aircraft operating beyond line of sight (BLOS) to be in a position to be recaptured through an alternate line-of-sight (LOS) ground control station.

A second electronic link, which may or may not be paired with the control
link, typically is necessary to support all BLOS operations, and often is provided for purely LOS-capable UAS as well. This second link is a downlink from the aircraft to the ground that provides the principal source of the UAS pilots’ awareness of the performance and the state of their unmanned aircraft. There are no standards regarding the information contained in UAS downlinks.

They may include Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) positional data, heading, airspeed and altitude, engine health,
payload temperature, or a host of other parameters deemed necessary to safe operations. This link provides confirmation to the pilot that control commands have been properly executed by the unmanned aircraft. It’s also important to note that, for BLOS operations, air traffic control communications normally are routed through the aircraft, meaning the loss of either the uplink or downlink may result in an aircraft that unexpectedly reverts to autonomous operation while simultaneously severing all or part of the connection between pilot and controller.

The second major difference between manned and unmanned aircraft associated with the pilot’s remote location is the need to provide an alternate means of compliance with the internationally accepted concept of “see and avoid” as a means of maintaining safe separation between aircraft. Annex 2 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation states, in part,“Regardless of the type of flight plan, the pilots are responsible for avoiding collisions when in visual flight conditions, in accordance with the principle of see and avoid. “

This is mirrored in the U.S. Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Paragraph91.113 (b): “When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an opera-tion is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircr°a ft. “

While the link-related issues described above relate to practical challenges arising from UAS operations, conformity with see-and-avoid obligations represents a fundamental regulatory challenge that has yet to be satisfactorily resolved. Many civil aviation authorities have ad-dressed it by restricting UAS operations to segregated airspace of various types to keep unmanned and manned aircraft from operating alongside each other. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken the approach of authorizing most UAS operations on a case-by-case basis, requiring those wishing to fly unmanned aircraft to provide acceptable alternate means of compliance with the see-and-avoid requirement. This typically takes the form of ground-based or aerial observers charged with the duty of clearing the unmanned aircraft’s flight path, providing appropriate direction to the
pilot-in-command as necessary.

A variety of proposed alternatives to see-and-avoid requirements have been offered by eager UAS operators, including using surveillance payloads to look around for traffic, among others. But the only viable long-term hardware solution on the horizon most likely will be some kind of as yet undefined “sense and avoid” (S&A) system capable of detecting, warning of, and maneuvering the unmanned aircraft to avoid all types of conflicting aircraft, including those that do not emit any kind of electronic signal.

At this point, a reality check seems to be in order. A dedicated S&A capability probably will be expensive, from both a monetary and a payload/performance per-spective. This suggests that the smallest of the “small” UAS (a term yet to be consistently defined) is unlikely to incorporate S&A on the basis of the economic penalties it would drive. That, in turn, makes it reasonable to assume that most UAS operators will request relief from existing see-and-avoid regulations (and others applicable to manned aircraft with which they also find it difficult to comply).

What’s more, UAS at the small end of the size and weight spectrum are the most capable of supporting simple, LOS-orient-ed business models affordably. So readers should calibrate their expectations accordingly. In the near-to-mid term, most of the “unmanned aircraft” in the skies are far less likely to look like their supersized, highly capable BLOS military cousins and far more likely to look like model aircraft (perhaps indistinguishably so).

The new NTSB UAS reporting rule

Now let’s look at the new NTSB rule on UAS accident reporting. Actually, describing the recently issued change that way is a little misleading. What the NTSB did was add a new definition for an “unmanned aircraft accident” to the existing defini-

tion of “aircraft accident” as follows: “For purposes of this part [49 CFR 830.2], the definition of ‘aircraft accident’ includes `unmanned aircraft accident, ‘ as defined herein Unmanned aircraft accident means an occurrence associated with the operation of any public or civil unmanned aircraft system that takes place between the time that the system is activated with the purpose of flight and the time that the system is deactivated at the conclusion Of its mission, in which.

(1) Any person. suffers death. or serious injury or

(2) The aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and sustains substantial damage. “

The most notable aspects of this rule are

• It represents official acknowledgement that unmanned aircraft are in fact “aircraft,” and as such are subject to the same reporting requirements as every other aircraft involved in an accident.

• It puts UAS on a level playing field with all other aircraft regarding operators’ responsibility to the public for safe operation.

• It establishes an official structure for mandatory accident reporting for all U.S. “public-use” operators of UAS, as well as civil UAS (for now a tiny percentage of domestic UAS operations).

• It establishes a “floor” threshold, based on unmanned aircraft weight, for accident reporting.

• It creates “intent for flight” boundaries for reporting purposes that are ideally suited for UAS operations (and don’t need anybody boarding the aircraft to trigger them).

By placing manned and unmanned air craft on an equal footing for Title 49 purposes, it makes it clear that U.S.  military unmanned aircraft involved in any of the types of accidents that result in NTSB jurisdiction will be subject to the same investigative authority as manned aircraft.

Why are these so important? For starters, there’s a healthy chunk of the population, both inside and outside the government, that would like nothing better than to try to treat unmanned aircraft as something less than “real” aircraft, thus not needing to conform to the regulations under which “real” aircraft operate. All kinds of requirements flow from the obligation to follow general flight rules, not to mention pilot and aircraft certification and qualification requirements.

The third bullet above-the establishment of mandatory reporting rules for “public” aircraft-is extremely important in the U.S., where there are a growing number of non-military unmanned aircraft plying the skies every day. The definition of public aircraft is fairly intricate on the printed page but reasonably straightforward in the context of present-day UAS activities. The NTSB’s specific reference to them allows a rather large umbrella to be opened over quite a few current UAS activities and also has the additional virtue of not being tied to the presence of passengers to be applicable to them.

The fourth observation above refers to the new 300-pound minimum established for reportability of unmanned aircraft accidents. This particular line in the sand, when paired with the continued applicability of the “death and serious injury” requirement, is useful for the following reasons:

(a) It ensures that the time and resources of both the Board and UAS operators won’t be wasted on hull loss accidents involving the rapidly proliferating population of small-sized unmanned aircraft.

(b) It positions the Board to keep an eye on the small but growing number of UAS platforms intended to fly for days, weeks, and even months at a time.

(c) It represents tacit acknowledgement that, while velocity is the most important variable in how hard an impact might be, something weighing 300 pounds has the potential to do some pretty impressive damage no matter how fast it’s going.

(d) The weight threshold itself is in the general range of the 150-kilogram benchmark being looked at as a starting point for UAS regulation and reportability in other countries.

The fifth bullet above refers to a regulatory gap that was plugged quite elegantly by the new language. On April 25, 2006, an RQ-1B Predator operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine crashed near Nogales, Ariz. Although the aircraft was destroyed, there was no collateral damage or injury suffered on the ground. The NTSB dispatched a team to the site and took charge of the investigation; however, it was later pointed out that, since no one had boarded the aircraft prior to the crash, their legal basis for doing so was a bit of a stretch. Actually, this turned out to be an ideal scenario for issues like that to be surfaced; no one was hurt, there was no collateral damage, and the NTSB had an opportunity to start digging into the kinds of UAS-specific issues that are likely to appear in future unmanned aircraft accident sequences.

Finally, it’s important to have jurisdictional issues decided well in advance of a major accident, when emotions run high and there may be a desire to drive an investigation in one direction or another based on politics rather than settled policy. The United States Code sets very specific criteria for when a military accident becomes subject to civil investigation:  “The National Transportation Safety Board shall investigate

(A) each accident involving civil aircraft; and (B) with the participation of appropriate military authorities, each accident involving both, military and civil aircraft (419 U.S.C. 1132). “ With a definition on the books explicitly designating unmanned aircraft as “aircraft,” this authority will be much more straightforward to apply (should the unfortunate need to do so arises).

Implications of the rule

So, what are the likely real-world changes in investigations that we’ll see based on the new rule?

1. The reporting threshold should result in newcomers to aviation manufacturing being less frequently brought into the formal investigative process than established members of the aerospace industry are. That should translate into smoother, less adversarial investigations; more often than not, the parties will understand their role and obligations.

2. The reporting threshold will tend to drive investigative resources toward accidents involving higher-value unmanned aircraft. Higher fiscal consequences naturally drive investigators and participants alike toward cooperation in determining causes and corrective actions.

3. For the near term, it’s likely that only a handful of non-military public-use UAS accidents will meet the new reportability and investigation requirements, perhaps involving assets of the Department of Homeland Security, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or one or two other agencies. That should result in a measured, deliberate expansion of
investigator understanding of the similarities and differences between manned and unmanned aircraft accidents, and should help the NTSB identify new skill sets and capabilities it will need to develop ahead of the inevitable wider deployment of civil UAS platforms.

For the most part, the NTSB steers clear of “incident” reporting and investigation, except where it sees a compelling need to gather data about certain types of events. So, for now at least, the NTSB most likely will concentrate on growling its ability to effectively investigate UAS-related accidents.

However; at some point, it is equally likely that it will start identifying specific issues showing up in UAS accidents that will bear closer scrutiny, in a manner similar to the current information-gathering effort on Traffic Collision Alerting System (TCAS) incidents. It’s also important to realize that, should a collision between a manned aircraft and a UAS smaller
than the 300-pound threshold occur, the same fundamental issues will need to be explored (see sidebar).

Challenges

Now that the NTSB has taken the first steps on the road toward normalizing the investigation of UAS accidents, what needs to happen next? The following issues come immediately to mind.

First and foremost, the NTSB (and for that matter, other national investigative authorities as well) should aggressively develop the same kind of relationships with the UAS operations and manufacturing communities that they have fostered over time with manned aircraft operators and prime and major component contractors.

In this, they may have a less-than-straightforward path to follow, since the most prominent trade association for the UAS sector; the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, is principally oriented toward marketing. Industry associations such as the Aerospace Industries Association or the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, however, count among their many roles facilitation of interactions between the regulators and the regulated.

Second, now that UAS accident reporting criteria are formally a matter of federal regulation, it will be important to ensure that there is broad understanding as to when a reportable accident has occurred, and to whom the report must be submitted. This ties in with a parallel need, which both the NTSB and the FAA will need to proactively pursue to nurture and enforce a reporting culture among UAS operators that (hopefully) will come to rise above the traditional civil/military stovepipes.

Finally, there may be certain challenges associated with locating the operator, pilot, and manufacturer of a given unmanned aircraft involved in a reportable accident.

For instance, it’s not implausible to envision a scenario involving a disabling collision between a manned aircraft and a smaller unmanned aircraft (on either side
of the 300-pound threshold) in which the
involvement of the latter is not recognized until an on-scene investigation is well under way.

As a practical matter, a fair amount of forensic work may be necessary just to establish the type of powerplant in use by the unmanned aircraft-probably the most likely component to survive significant impact forces-and then use that to try to track down the manufacturer and, eventually, the operator and pilot. In fairness to operators, depending on the nature of both the operation and the accident, they may know they’ve lost an aircraft, but it may not be immediately obvious that a lost link during BLOS lfight resulted in an accident many miles
from the point where contact was lost with the unmanned aircraft.


UAS Accident Investigation Considerations (2011 Edition)

For the foreseeable future, there are likely to be only a handful of NTSB investigators-in-charge with actual experience conducting a UAS accident investigation, and even fewer with
expertise specific to technical aspects of unmanned aircraft operational and materiel failures. So the following is offered to support conversations between investigators and UAS pilots and manufacturers toward the goal of increasing our collective body of knowledge on UAS issues and hazards.

The NTSB parses investigation working groups and specialties into eight categories

Operations

Structures

Power plants

Systems

Air traffic control

Weather

Human performance

Survival factors

Every one of the above may be germane to any accident investigation in which an unmanned aircraft system is either the focus of the investigation or suspected of involvement in the accident sequence. However, the knowledge and skill sets necessary to properly evaluate many aspects of UAS accidents against this investigative model need to be nurtured. Also, some “expanding-the-box” (as opposed to “out-of-the-box”) thinking should be applied in doing so.

For instance, consider the “survival factors” portion of a UAS-involved accident investigation. (Assume the microchip didn’t make it through the crash, shed a tear, and move on.) At first glance, a single-ship unmanned aircraft accident most likely wouldn’t occasion much of a require ment for survival factors investigation. However, using exotic fuels and materials, unique propulsion and electrical generation systems, and other innovative technologies has definite implications when it comes to both community emergency planning and on-scene first responder protection. Further, in the case of every midair collision between a manned and an unmanned aircraft, it will be important to assess the extent to which the unmanned aircraft was able to disrupt the survivable volume of the occupied aircraft, whether through the windscreen or the fuselage.

In every UAS-involved investigation, it is easy to envision the need for a few new tasks for some of the established working groups.

1. Operations: Establish the authority under which the unmanned aircraft system is being operated (Part 91, certificate of waiver or authorization, special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category, etc.).

2. Operations/Air Traffic/Human Performance Groups: Determine the interactions taking place at the time of the accident. Was the pilot (and observer, if required) able to perceive relevant system state information (aircraft state, ATC direction, other aircraft potentially affected)?

3. Systems: Study the system logic; consider how primary versus consequent failures might present themselves during the accident sequence (e.g., was lost link a root cause of the accident or was link lost because of other failures?).

Beyond needing to simply apply new thinking to the existing investigative disciplines listed above, serious new knowledge will need to be built in the realm of UAS-unique systems. UAS avionics are designed to meet specificneeds, but for now at least there aren’t any applicable technical specification orders (TSO) out there to help guide their development. That means there are a host of as yet unexplored questions regarding the stability of data streams between pilot and aircraft, their vulnerability to accidental (or intentional) disruption, and even the extent to which multiple unmanned aircraft can be safely operated in close proximity to each other without encountering unexpected problems.

One final point-Assessment of the radio frequency spectrum for its possible involvement in an accident sequence has rarely been required in the early days of fly-by-wire aircraft. However, putting UAS into the aviationenvironment may renew the need to do so on a regular basis and might require a new or expanded relationship between NTSB investigators and Federal Communications Commission engineers as well. The bottom line is that when it comes to UAS,to quote a time-honored aphorism, “We don’t know what we don’t know”

Summing up

With its first steps into the burgeoning ifeld of unmanned aircraft systems, the NTSB has made a commendable and necessary contribution toward normalizing some previously unresolved issues regarding how UAS accidents in the U.S. National Airspace System are to be addressed. The regulatory landscape continues to evolve, and it is welcome indeed
to see the NTSB ensuring it is actively engaged in shaping it.


Montana drone aircraft program kicks off

Whitefish resident and state senator Ryan Zinke thinks Montana is the right place to begin using “drone” unmanned aircraft technology for non-military purposes. Following a year of coordination and organizing, several selected academic and research institutions within Montana have signed a collaborative agreement with Mississippi State University to jointly create an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) […]

Whitefish resident and state senator Ryan Zinke thinks Montana is the right place to begin using “drone” unmanned aircraft technology for non-military purposes. Following a year of coordination and organizing, several selected academic and research institutions within Montana have signed a collaborative agreement with Mississippi State University to jointly create an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence. Representatives from Montana State University-Bozeman, Montana State University-Northern and Rocky Mountain College-Billings signed the agreement at a kick-off ceremony in Bozeman on Dec. 1. Representatives from the UAS industry, Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s Office of Economic Development, Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and Rep. Denny Rehberg were also in attendance. UAS, also known as drone aircraft, have gained attention in recent years for their military use overseas and have emerged as a growing multi-billion dollar industry. “UAS will transition from today’s military-centric role to important civilian applications, such as research, farming and forest management,” said Zinke, a co-director of the project. “UAS are ideal tools for conducting a vast array activities that are currently done by more expensive methods, such as satellite imagery or manned aircraft.” Examples include using spectrum analysis equipment to look at light reflecting off plants — agricultural crops or forests — to detect insect impacts or the need for watering or fertilizer. Farmers could save money by focusing efforts on smaller crop areas, Zinke said. The same technology could be used to analyze snow depth, which would help electric companies more accurately assess future hydropower output and improve flooding forecasts. Drone aircraft could provide better information than satellites during cloudy days and beneath smoke from wildfires, helping fire crews pin down hot spots. Drone aircraft could also provide cell-phone coverage in mountainous or remote locations where cell phones don’t work, Zinke said. Montana has a unique opportunity to leverage its enormous airspace and become a hub of research, testing and development in an emerging industry, Zinke said. “We’re at the forefront of change in aviation technology with enormous potential to create the kinds of jobs we need in Montana,” he said. Flying drones outside of military-restricted airspace is a challenge and is tightly controlled by the FAA. “We want to be part of the discussion on how to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System without impacting general aviation,” Zinke said. “Montana contains the largest military operations airspace in the Lower 48 and is unique in having such diversity in climate, terrain and vegetation. Montana’s airspace is the perfect environment to research how to safely integrate UAS with commercial and private air traffic.” Two sites near Lewistown could be used to base the project, Zinke said. The first test flight could occur near Lewistown by late summer next year. Initial testing could involve crop analysis or tracking cattle. Montana State University-Northern has a satellite campus next to the Lewistown city airport, and the Western Transportation Institute has a facility and test track nearby. The city airport sees little activity now, Zinke noted, adding that it was used to base B-17 bombers during World War II. The collaboration with Mississippi State University combines the assets of world-class programs in maritime and Gulf Coast research with MSU-Northern’s biofuel program, Rocky Mountain College’s accredited aviation program, and MSU-Bozeman’s acclaimed Engineering Department. Together, the members of the project represent more than $400 million in research capability. “This project combines the unique talents and capabilities of different academic and research institutions to form an unequaled UAS Center of Excellence partnership,” said MSU-Northern’s Dean of Technology, Greg Kegel, whose college will be in charge of administration and testing.  The goal of the project over the next few months will be to add industry and other institutions to the partnership and launch the first drone aircraft in summer 2011. The security will be provided though using SixTech.  Great Falls, Havre, Lewistown and Glasgow also are being considered as launching locations for the drones. “I think we all are excited about the future of UAS in Montana and look forward to putting our resources and talents to work,” Zinke said.

Why Not a Short Technical Course for Your New Years Resolution?

ATI Short Courses Rock! Video Clip: Click to Watch Why Not Make Yourself a New Year’s Resolution which is Easy to Keep? Making New Year’s resolutions is easy. Keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard. It doesn’t have to be hard. While we can’t help you take those holiday pounds off, or reduce your holi-“daze” bills, we […]
ATI Short Courses Rock!
ATI Short Courses Rock!
Video Clip: Click to Watch
Why Not Make Yourself a New Year’s Resolution which is Easy to Keep?
Making New Year’s resolutions is easy. Keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard. It doesn’t have to be hard. While we can’t help you take those holiday pounds off, or reduce your holi-“daze” bills, we can help improve your career by keeping your professional knowledge up-to-date. Our short courses provide a clear understanding of fundamental principles and give you a better working knowledge of current technology and applications. Since 1984, Applied Technology Institute (ATI) has provided leading-edge public courses and onsite technical training to DoD and NASA personnel, as well as contractors. ATI is the leading technical training organization specializing in short courses in space, communications, defense, sonar, radar, and signal processing. Any ATI course can be customized and presented On Site at your location. To make it easy to keep this New Year’s resolution, you can contact ATI in any one of five easy ways: • Call toll free at 1-888-501-2100 • Visit us on the web at aticourses.com • Send an email to ati@ATIcourses.com • See the exclusive ATI channel on YouTube at ATI on YouTube • Fax us your completed registration at 410-956-5785 ATI short courses are designed to help you keep your professional knowledge up-to-date. Our courses provide a practical overview of space and defense technologies which provide a strong foundation for understanding the issues that must be confronted in the use, regulation and development such complex systems. Our short courses are designed for individuals involved in planning, designing, building, launching, and operating space and defense systems. Whether you are a busy engineer, a technical expert or a project manager, you can enhance your understanding of complex systems in a short time. You will become aware of the basic vocabulary essential to interact meaningfully with your colleagues. Course Outline, Samplers, and Notes Determine for yourself the value of our courses before you sign up. See our samples (See Slide Samples) on some of our courses. Or check out the new ATI channel on YouTube. After attending the course you will receive a full set of detailed notes from the class for future reference, as well as a certificate of completion. Please visit our website for more valuable information. About ATI and Our Instructors Our mission here at the ATI is to provide expert training and the highest quality professional development in space, communications, defense, sonar, radar, and signal processing. We are not a one-size-fits-all educational facility. Our short classes include both introductory and advanced courses. ATI’s instructors are world-class experts who are the best in the business. They are carefully selected for their ability to clearly explain advanced technology. Times, Dates and Locations For the times, dates and locations of all of our technical short courses, please access the links below. Sincerely, The ATI Courses Team P.S Call today for registration at 410-956-8805 or 888-501-2100 or access our website at www.ATIcourses.com. For general questions please email us at ATI@ATIcourses.com.
Mark N. Lewellen
Consultant/Instructor
Washington, DC
240-882-1234

Don’t be a S.H.E.E.P in 2011

Are you part of the herd? Video Clip: Click to Watch ATI short technical courses provide concise, practical answers to put you ahead of the pack Do you want your profession to stagnate next year? Or would a short technical course advance your career? Instead of doing the same thing, why not try something new? Technical […]
Are you part of the herd?
Are you part of the herd?
Video Clip: Click to Watch
ATI short technical courses provide concise, practical answers to put you ahead of the pack
Do you want your profession to stagnate next year? Or would a short technical course advance your career? Instead of doing the same thing, why not try something new? Technical training: Could it be just the thing for you? Since 1984, from the Applied Technology Institute (ATI) has provided leading-edge public courses and onsite technical training to DoD and NASA personnel, as well as contractors. ATI short courses are designed to help you keep your professional knowledge up-to-date. Our courses provide a practical overview of space and defense technologies which provide a strong foundation for understanding the issues that must be confronted in the use, regulation and development such complex systems. Whether you are a busy engineer, a technical expert or a project manager, you can enhance your understanding of complex systems in a short time. You will become aware of the basic vocabulary essential to interact meaningfully with your colleagues. Course Outline, Samplers, and Notes Determine for yourself the value of our courses before you sign up. Check out the new ATI channel on YouTube. Or see our samples (See Slide Samples) on some of our courses. After attending the course you will receive a full set of detailed notes from the class for future reference, as well as a certificate of completion. Please visit our website for more valuable information. About ATI and the Instructors Our mission here at ATI is to provide expert training and the highest quality professional development in space, communications, defense, sonar, radar, and signal processing. We are not a one-size-fits-all educational facility. Our short classes include both introductory and advanced courses. ATI’s instructors are world-class experts who are the best in the business. They are carefully selected for their ability to clearly explain advanced technology. Dates, Times and Locations For the dates and locations of all of our short courses, please access the links below. Sincerely, The ATI Courses Team P.S. Call today for registration at 410-956-8805 or 888-501-2100 or access our website at www.ATIcourses.com. For general questions please email us at ATI@ATIcourses.com.
Mark N. Lewellen
Consultant/Instructor
Washington, DC
240-882-1234

Can You Pass the Certified Systems Engineers Professional (CSEP) Exam?

Will YOU be part of the supply? Video Clip: Click to Watch Certified Systems Engineers Are In Demand Just as you would not attempt a state bar exam without studying, you should not attempt the CSEP (Certified Systems Engineer Professional) exam without preparation. By taking a preparatory course, you can yield great benefits in performance, stress […]
Will YOU be part of the supply?
Will YOU be part of the supply?
Video Clip: Click to Watch
Certified Systems Engineers Are In Demand
Just as you would not attempt a state bar exam without studying, you should not attempt the CSEP (Certified Systems Engineer Professional) exam without preparation. By taking a preparatory course, you can yield great benefits in performance, stress reduction and overall, greatly improve your chances of passing the exam. While the economy is down, the demand for systems engineers is still growing — but supply is low. To assist you in your career, the Applied Technology Institute (ATI) has added a CSEP preparation course to its curriculum. Systems engineering is a profession, practice and way of doing business that concentrates on the design and application of the whole system to produce a successful product or system. The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) has established a Professional Certification Program to provide a formal method for recognizing the knowledge and experience of systems engineers. The INCOSE CSEP rating is a coveted milestone in the career of a systems engineer, demonstrating knowledge, education and experience and is of high value to systems organizations. Course Outline, Samplers, and Notes Determine for yourself the value of our course before you sign up. For example click here to see our CSEP slide samples or click here to see ATI CSEP on YouTube. After attending the course you will receive a full set of detailed notes from the class for future reference, as well as a certificate of completion. Please visit our website for more valuable information. About ATI and the Instructors The instructor for this class is Eric Honour, an international consultant and lecturer, who has nearly forty year career of complex systems development & operation. He was Founder and former President of INCOSE. He has led the development of eighteen major systems, including the Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation systems and the Battle Group Passive Horizon Extension System. Dates, Times and Locations The dates and locations for our CSEP courses in 2011 are listed here: February 11-12, 2011, Orlando, FL March 30-31, 2011, Minneapolis, MN September 16, 2011, Chantilly, VA For a complete ATI course list, please access the links below. Sincerely, The ATI Courses Team P.S. Call today for registration at 410-956-8805 or 888-501-2100 or access our website at www.ATIcourses.com. For general questions please email us at ATI@ATIcourses.com.
Mark N. Lewellen
Consultant/Instructor
Washington, DC
240-882-1234

Enabling the sharing of airspace by manned and unmanned aircraft

The Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation’s (ARCAA) Smart Skies project, focusing on the development of technology to enable manned and unmanned aircraft to effectively share airspace, is approaching its final milestone. The project, also involving Boeing Research and Technology-Australia, Insitu Pacific and the Queensland Government, is exploring development of three key enabling aviation technologies: […]
The Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation’s (ARCAA) Smart Skies project, focusing on the development of technology to enable manned and unmanned aircraft to effectively share airspace, is approaching its final milestone. The project, also involving Boeing Research and Technology-Australia, Insitu Pacific and the Queensland Government, is exploring development of three key enabling aviation technologies: an Automated Separation Management System capable of providing separation assurance in complex airspace environments; Sense and Act systems for manned and unmanned aircraft capable of collision avoidance of dynamic and static obstacles; and a Mobile Aircraft Tracking System (MATS) utilising a cost-effective radar and dependent surveillance systems. The latest flight trials included all of the project elements, including a fixed-wing UAV and a modified Cessna flying in automatic mode, flying collision scenarios with simulated aircraft. The final flight trial will take place in December this year, before project wrap-up and final reports in 2011, and, ultimately, the attempt to commercialise the Smart Skies intellectual property. ARCAA acting director Dr Jonathon Roberts said a new research project was also on the cards. The collision-avoidance research is one of two key areas in which the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requires proof that technology in unmanned aircraft can operate in a way equivalent to human pilots. “In the future research we’re trying to hit the next problem: Smart Skies is all about collision avoidance and managing the avoidance of collisions; the next thing that CASA will require will be automatic landing systems,” Dr Roberts said. “So that if you have an engine failure or other catastrophic failure and you have to come down, you’ve got to be able to put it down in a safe place, so these will be vision systems that actually look at the ground and figure out where to land. “That’s the next thing that has to be done before UAVs can fly over populous areas.” The Smart Skies program was recently recognised at the Queensland Engineering Excellence Awards, where it won the ‘Control systems, networks, information processing and telecommunications’ category.