Advancement

European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)

Urban Air Mobility (UAM)

Urban Air Mobility is expected to become a reality in Europe within 3-5 years. New technologies such as electric propulsion and enhanced battery capacity, applied to vertical take-off and landing systems, make this possible. The first commercial operations are expected to be the delivery of goods by drones and the transport of passengers, initially with a pilot on board. Later remote piloting or even autonomous services could follow.  Several pilot projects are under way and some European manufacturers have already applied for certification, including for piloted vehicles for passenger transport. EASA is working with them on the airworthiness of the vehicles.  The EU, and EASA in particular, have an important role to play in enabling this breakthrough and so helping European industry be a first mover at global level.

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Study on the Societal Acceptance of UAM Operations

Citizens’ acceptance and future UAM users’ confidence will be essential to the successful deployment of Urban air Mobility in Europe. EASA conducted a comprehensive study on the societal acceptance of UAM operations across the European Union to guide this work. The study was carried out together with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and the Arup Sound Lab between November 2020 and April 2021. Based on thorough research, literature review, local market analysis, surveys and interviews, the study examined the attitudes, expectations and concerns of EU citizens with respect to UAM and revealed interesting insights that will help EASA prepare the future regulatory framework.

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EASA Regulatory Activities

The Agency  has started creating the UAM regulatory framework, building notably on the results of 2021 UAM study on societal acceptance. Some building blocks have already been achieved:

  • On airworthiness, EASA has been the first in the world to publish in July 2019 a Special Condition to authorise small VTOL aircraft operations, in 2020 for Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems operating in medium risk situations, and in 2021 Guidelines on the design verification of UAS operating in the specific category   
  • On operations and pilot licencing, in early 2019 it has launched preparatory activities that will lead to rules for the pilots/remote pilots of these vehicles, their operators and for the infrastructure, e.g. vertiport operators 
  • On airspace integration, EASA has prepared a worlds-first U-Space/UTM regulatory package (Commission Implementing regulations 2021/6642021/665 & 2021/666, adopted by the European Commission on 22 of April 2021; this package will become applicable early 2023 and will enable the safe integration of UAS operations in urban environment 
  • On the R&D side, EASA is also engaged in a large number of projects (AMU-LEDSAFIR-MedCORUS-XUAMAirMour and EASA may get involved in other additional ones such as GOF 2.0TINDAIRUspace4UAM); it has also signed the Manifesto (of several cities) of the UAM initiatives by European cities (EU Smart Cities Marketplace)

National Research Council Canada

Assessment of Drone Impact on Commercial Aircrafts

A mid-air collision with an unmanned aerial vehicle could potentially be dangerous to an aircraft.  The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is collaborating with Transport Canada and other government departments to evaluate the risks associated to drones impacting aircrafts at cruising under 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude and approach phases.  Since the 1960s, the NRC has been performing similar research in the context of bird impact tests on aircraft structures, windshields and engines.
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Safe integration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft system (RPAS)

As the popularity of drones is rapidly growing, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is assisting Transport Canada to develop evidence-based regulations for safe integration and operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft systems (RPAS) in Canada.  The NRC is supporting this regulatory development by performing R&D planning and coordination and generating scientific data utilizing its unique facilities and expert researchers.
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Icing Investigation for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Rotors and Propellers

Icing build up on small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) rotors and propellers can be a serious threat. The National Research Council of Canada is investigating the icing of small propellers at high RPM to provide Transport Canada with scientific data to support the development of a safe and commercially viable regulatory framework for RPAS operations in Canada.
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For information on all the other completed public reports, review the 2020-2021 Transport Canada RPAS R&D Yearly Progress Report. 

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University External Research

Visual Detection of Small Unmanna Aircraft: Modeling the Limits of Human Pilots
Dr. Gregory Stephen Woo

The purpose of this study was to determine the key physical variables for visual detection of small, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and to learn how these variables influence the ability of human pilots, in manned-aircraft operating between 60-knots to 160-knots in the airport terminal area, to see these small, unmanned aircraft in time to avoid a collision. The study also produced a set of probability curves for various operating scenarios, depicting the likelihood of visually detecting a small, unmanned aircraft in time to avoid colliding with it. The study used the known limits of human visual acuity, based on the mechanics of the human eye and previous research on human visual detection of distant objects, to define the human performance constraints for the visual search task.

The results of the analysis suggest the probability of detection, in all cases modeled during the study, is far less than 50 percent. The probability of detection was well under 10 percent for small UAS aircraft similar to the products used by many recreational and hobby operators.

The results of this study indicate the concept of see-and-avoid is not a reliable technique for collision prevention by manned-aircraft pilots when it comes to operating near small, unmanned aircraft. Since small, unmanned aircraft continue to appear in airspace where they do not belong, regulators and the industry need to accelerate the development and deployment of alternative methods for collision prevention between sUAS aircraft operations and manned-aircraft.

The analysis effort for this study included the development of a new simulation model, building on existing models related to human visual detection of distant objects. This study extended existing research and used currently accepted standards to create a new model specifically tailored to small, unmanned aircraft detection. Since several input variables are not controllable, this study used a Monte Carlo simulation to provide a means for addressing the effects of uncertainty in the uncontrollable inputs that the previous models did not handle. The uncontrollable inputs include the airspeed and direction of flight for the unmanned aircraft, as well as the changing contrast between the unmanned aircraft target and its background as both the target aircraft and the observer encounter different background and lighting conditions.

The reusable model created for this study will enable future research related to the visual detection of small, unmanned aircraft. It provides a new tool for studying the difficult task of visually detecting airborne, small, unmanned aircraft targets in time to maneuver clear of a possible collision with them. The study also tested alternative input values to the simulation model to explore how changes to small, unmanned aircraft features might improve the visual detectability of the unmanned aircraft by human pilots in manned aircraft. While these changes resulted in higher probabilities of detection, the overall detection probability remained very low thereby confirming the urgent need to build reliable collision avoidance capability into small UAS aircraft. 

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Nanyang Technological University (Affiliate Member)

Public Acceptance of Drone Applications in a Highly Urbanized Environment

Human societies are constantly affected by advancement in technologies. Could drone application be the next game changer? Building on the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) model, we conducted a study to examine public perceptions of drone application in a South East Asian city state. While there are a number of common findings with past research, we were able to extend the understanding of drone application in urban areas with the following findings. First, using two knowledge tests, we were able to confirm that the majority of the public seems to have a good understanding of what a drone is. Second, acceptance levels towards drones did significantly differ depending on the context of use. Industrial areas had the highest acceptance level, followed by recreational areas and commercial areas while residential areas had the lowest acceptance level. Finally, different factors may be responsible for the varying levels of acceptance across the different contexts. We provided preliminary evidence that two factors – fears and concerns, and perceived potential benefits – affected the public acceptance levels differently depending on the contexts of drone applications. We concluded with implications for future research and policy makers

This final report gives an overall description of the test setup for windshield and wing leading edge impact testing and provides experimental data along with analysis and discussion.

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Collision probability between intruding drone and commercial aircraft in airport restricted area based on collision-course trajectory planning

With the significant improvements in drone technology and the popularization of drones among their hobbyists, the incidents of drones intruding airports have resulted in a large number of flight delays and temporary closure of runways. To minimize the interference of drones on normal operations in the airports, a collision probability evaluation scheme based on collision-course trajectories modeling is proposed in this work. Firstly, a trajectory of the commercial aircraft (CA) and the collision-course of the drone. Subsequently, according to the trajectories of the drone and CA, a probabilistic model based on the stochastic kinematic model is developed to implement the collision risk evaluation. The proposed method is first comparatively demonstrated with the Monte-Carlo (MC) simulation and several special cases with known drone’s trajectories. Subsequently, the cases covering different drone’s initial positions, position updates, and different collision zones are simulated and analyzed using the proposed collision -course based model. The simulation results show that the established model can be employed to evaluate the collision probability, even if the trajectory information of the intruding drone is limited. 

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UAV airborne collision to manned aircraft engine: Damage of fan blades and resultant thrust loss

Recently, the growing amount of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has brought a huge threat to the safety management of manned aircraft operation, in which the UAV airborne collision is an incident that would lead to serious damage to the manned aircraft and will affect its operational safety significantly. In the present paper, the bird strike data over the year of 1990∼2019 is analyzed, which demonstrates that the engine is the most vulnerable component under bird strike, and the most severe hazard would happen during the flight phases of take-off, climb and approach. The dynamic response of UAV airborne collision with the manned aircraft engine is simulated based on the combination of FEM (Finite Element Method) and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulations. Not only the damage of fan blades but also the thrust loss of the engine core caused by the damage in the compressor core is taken into account. The damage severity level of the engine under UAV airborne collision is studied by considering different collision configurations, different collision positions and different flight phases. Both the damage of fan blades and the percentage of thrust loss are considered to reflect the influence of UAV airborne collision on the aircraft operation. It is expected that this study can be used to guide the airborne safety assessment of UAV airborne collision.

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Related News

Air Mobility with Unmanned Systems and Engineering (AMUSE) Conference

Nanyang Technological University’s Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI) holds an annual conference on Air Mobility with Unmanned Systems and Engineering (AMUSE).

Overview of AMUSE Conference 2021

This conference aims to provide a platform for the discussion of air mobility with unmanned systems and engineering. The invited speakers come from leading groups working on Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) integration, in academia as well as industry and commercial partners whose businesses are closely related to drone applications. They will present on topics related to issues of airborne and ground collision in UAS integration as well as perspective and initiatives of aviation regulators in this aspect. The conference will be conducted virtually in view of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. Registration is free, and we invite anyone from the academic, industry and aviation agencies to register. We are planning for about 150 participants and will facilitate interactions among participants.

Background

AMUSE Conference aims to provide a platform for regulators, academic researchers and industry partners to exchange ideas and research interest in UAS domain. Also, to share results from research that enable successful UAS integration into manned airspace. The inaugural AMUSE Conference, AMUSE2020 was launched successfully in 2020, which focused on the Advancement and Trends of UTM/UAM in Asian Cities. This year, AMUSE2021 is organised jointly by ATMRI and ASSURE, where the focus will be on Issues of Airborne and Ground Collision in UAS Integration. Being the Centre of Excellence for FAA’s UAS Research, ASSURE and its members have conducted impactful research on numerous areas. ATMRI and ASSURE have been collaborating for the past 2 years with their shared research interest in UAS airborne collision risk and severity evaluation. Enabling air mobility through the usage of UAS presents numerous challenges. Collision risks mitigation to enable safe and effective UAS integration has never been more important. Participants will be able to enjoy and learn about high-level opportunities and challenges with UAS integration, as well as current state-of-the-art research being pursued in the academic community.

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