The U.S. lags other countries in allowing commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), delaying a substantial economic opportunity, witnesses told a Senate hearing on January 15. Some senators questioned the reasons behind the delay; others expressed concern over privacy rights at the hearing, which was held to consider both safety and privacy issues.
Unmanned aerial vehicle
The UK Royal Navy (RN) deployed its first maritime UAS this week, when an Insitu Scan Eagle system was added to RFA Cardigan Bay, which is supporting the EU anti-piracy patrols off Somalia.
France’s DGA defense procurement agency, the French navy and systems integrator DCNS proved the “functional integration” of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) with a naval ship’s combat system for the first time in Europe, according to DCNS. Following sea trials in mid-December, the DGA issued a permit to DCNS to fly the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 aircraft used in the testing, the company said.
Remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) manufacturer General Atomics says it has successfully tested sense-and-avoid architecture and self-separation functionality that could be the key to keeping piloted aircraft and RPAs apart in the air. The recent test marked the first time the technology has functioned as a true “system of systems” to detect every class of aircraft equipage, and it paves the way for a due regard capability, that ability to avoid aircraft, objects and weather.
FAA spokesman Les Dorr, in a Poynter story about a journalist’s use of a radio-controlled aircraft to film airborne video, once again publicly stated the FAA’s claim that commercial use of radio-controlled aircraft is prohibited. The Spokane, Wash.,-based Spokesman-Review ran the journalist’s video of a polar-bear swim event on its website.
The U.S. government said this week that it will expedite foreign military sales (FMS) to Iraq, including deliveries of small UAVs and Hellfire missiles, to help stem spiraling violence in Anbar Province. The weaponry is part of a “holistic” strategy the U.S. and Iraqi governments are pursuing to dislodge al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, officials said.
An FAA enforcement case against the operator of a commercial drone or unmanned aircraft system (UAS) may lead to a determination of whether the FAA has regulatory jurisdiction over model radio-control aircraft and whether the agency can prohibit the commercial operation of such aircraft. This is believed to be the first FAA enforcement action against the operator of a radio-controlled model aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration has designated universities and other public entities in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia to establish research and test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), fulfilling a key requirement of Congress in the 2012 FAA reauthorization act.
Online retailer Amazon said it is developing a delivery system that will use UAVs to fly packages to customers. The Seattle-based company said its goal is to deliver a package within 30 minutes of dispatching an aircraft from a fulfillment center.
France and the UK have agreed a common military staff requirement for a future medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAS, according to Gen. Denis Mercier, commander of the French Air Force. However, he cautioned that the move would not automatically result in the development by European industry of a Male UAV “because there is no money available at the moment.” European aerospace leaders have been pressing for the launch of a “Euro-Male” development program.