Raphael Pirker cast a long shadow over the Unmanned Systems 2014 conference. Pirker’s challenge of an FAA fine for allegedly flying his Ritewing Zephyr recklessly at the University of Virginia came up repeatedly during the annual conference the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) stages, this year in Orlando.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
News and issues relating to civil and military unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) of all kinds and sizes, including those used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), combat (unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs), law enforcement, research and other applications. Of particular focus is the FAA's planned integration of UAS into the U.S. national airspace system.
Battle lines have formed in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) review of the $10,000 fine the FAA charged Raphael Pirker for operating a small unmanned aircraft. Six parties filed “friend of the court” amicus briefs by the NTSB’s May 16 deadline, including a coalition of major news media organizations supporting Pirker’s position.
UK carrier EasyJet said it will apply new technologies, including operating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to maintain its Airbus fleet. The airline is also developing 3D virtual reality and augmented reality technology, customized engineering applications and early fault prognosis. It is installing Panasonic Toughpad tablets in cockpits fleetwide.
The U.S. Navy has not determined how to fit a “due regard” radar on its unmanned MQ-4C Triton, which will likely start initial operations in 2017 without the subsystem intended to help protect it from midair collisions. But the Triton will enter service with more capability than any other unmanned aircraft to “detect and avoid” other aircraft, the Navy’s program manager asserts.
Having lost the first round of its attempt to fine Raphael Pirker for using a flying wing to take video, the FAA plans to issue a public notice reaffirming its authority to regulate the use of small unmanned aircraft. The agency is appealing a March ruling by a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) administrative law judge rejecting the $10,000 fine.
U.S. congressional leaders, addressing those attending the Unmanned Systems Conference in Orlando on Tuesday, said Congress will likely expedite provisions of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act that require the FAA to introduce unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the nation’s airspace.
Commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is possible once manufacturers demonstrate the airworthiness of their designs, according to the manager of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office. “It’s a two-way street,” advised Jim Williams. “The FAA can’t pull the industry up.”
Space Florida hosted a tightly controlled unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flight demonstration on Sunday amid concern the FAA would pull the plug on the event, which served as a prelude to the Unmanned Systems 2014 conference this week in Orlando. With the exception of the media and participating UAS organizations, spectators were kept far removed from the launch area in a field at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Northrop Grumman and Yamaha Motor USA have partnered to develop and market an unmanned “autonomous” rotorcraft system based on Yamaha’s RMax agricultural helicopter. The Rotary Bat (R-Bat) is targeted for search and rescue, power line inspection and forest fire observation missions.
North Dakota’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test range may have been first to receive an FAA certificate of authorization (COA), but the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) this week laid claim to the first test-site mission.