The FAA aims to delegate authority to the six national unmanned aircraft system (UAS) test ranges it has chosen to issue their own experimental airworthiness certificates to manufacturers to test fly aircraft. The North Dakota test range, which planned to begin operations this week as the first range to receive an FAA certificate of authorization (COA), expects to eventually have two designated airworthiness representatives.
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.
The U.S. Navy recently ordered five more MQ-8C Fire Scouts, bringing to 19 the number of Bell 407-based unmanned helicopters it plans to buy from Northrop Grumman. But the Fire Scout program faces scrutiny by Congress for cost overruns.
The U.S. Navy released a draft request for proposal (RFP) for the unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike system (UClass) air segment to four contractors on April 17. The service expects to release a final RFP later this year.
A nonprofit search-and-rescue organization has asked a federal court to review an FAA order that it stop using a model aircraft to assist in its search efforts. Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search & Recovery, based in Dickinson, Texas, filed a petition for review of the order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on April 21.
The FAA granted a certificate of authorization (COA) to the North Dakota Department of Commerce to fly the Draganflyer X4-ES quadcopter at the Northern Plains unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test range, the first of six national UAS test sites to begin operations. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the authorization in Grand Forks on April 21.
For the second time in less than a month, a major Internet-related company has acquired a firm developing a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which could serve as a node to provide Internet connectivity from the stratosphere.
The European Commission plans to set “tough new standards” to regulate the operation of UAVs, known as remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in Europe, before they are more widely introduced into unrestricted airspace in 2016. The standards will cover safety, security, privacy, data protection, insurance and liability, the commission said.
The U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned maritime surveillance aircraft is progressing through its flight-test program, but still without a “sense-and-avoid” system that would protect against collisions with other aircraft. The program office said it is taking a “layered approach” to meeting the requirement until it finds a technology solution.
The Grand Forks, N.D., Sheriff’s Department announced in late March that it has received FAA authorization to fly unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) throughout its jurisdiction at night, making it the first law enforcement agency in the U.S. to gain such authorization.
Social media site Facebook has acquired a UK-based company whose founders helped develop the Zephyr, a solar-powered unmanned aircraft, as part of its “Connectivity Lab” project to more widely distribute Internet access.