Wichita State University’s National Institute of Aviation Research, University of Alabama, Huntsville Montana State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University make up the ASSURE COE research team. This follow-on study builds on our previous work aimed to understand the physical effects of an air-to-air collision between a small UAS (sUAS) and both a Narrow Body Commercial Aircraft and Business Jets operating under FAR 25 requirements.
As the number of UAS sold continues to increase, the integration of UAS into the airspace is a major safety concern due to the potential for a UAS-airplane collision. Recreational UAS tend to be relatively small and have the potential to be ingested into an engine. Although the effects of a bird ingest into an engine have been readily studied, the current tests and regulations cannot be transferred from birds to UASs. UAS key components: motor, battery, and camera, contain materials that are much denser and stiffer than ice and birds, which are typically modeled as a fluid since they are over 70% water. Preliminary work on this topic showed that UAS can cause significantly more damage than birds.
A core rule of manned aviation is very concise - detection, see and avoid. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) do not have the luxury of a pilot in the cockpit to see and safely avoid nearby traffic. The current solutions are to either place visual observers on the ground or use a chase plane. This limits the potential of Small UAS (sUAS) in areas such as precision agriculture, crop and wildlife monitoring, search and rescue, and linear infrastructure inspection due to safety concerns and access constraints for visual observers and chase planes.
This research will provide further insight into the safe integration of sUAS through the forecasting of expanded and non-segregated sUAS operations. The ASSURE research team will collect data to inform the FAA on risk-based methodologies to develop and apply safety rules, regulations, and revised Safety Management System (SMS) protocols based on forecasted UAS operational needs and performance characteristics.
The tasking for this work validates prior research in the performance of human pilots to detect other air traffic, assesses the potential for conflict and analyzes potential maneuver options for avoidance against an intruder aircraft when a potential conflict exists. The results of data and analyses conducted during this effort will be used by FAA to support a determination of whether the risk ratio safety performance thresholds defined in the ASTM Detect and Avoid (DAA) standard are adequately safe by comparing them to the measured ability for onboard pilots flying at lower altitudes to see‐and‐avoid other aircraft.
A continuation of this research provides an enhanced UAS data collection system that serves FAA needs to establish safety cases, evaluate research needs and align information with FAA research domains and the UAS Integration Research Plan.
Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress tasked the FAA with integrating UAS into the National Airspace System. To comply with the Congressional mandate, the FAA established an sUAS rule, allowing sUAS to operate in the NAS. With the passage of 14 CFR part 107 came the capability of operators to waive specific provisions for increased operational flexibility.
Several organizations have identified human factors issues unique to UAS, including the US Air Force Accident Investigation Board, the National Transportation Safety Board, the US Department of Transportation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, RTCA Special Committee (SC)-228, and others. This research will address gaps in knowledge that are currently a barrier to the safe, efficient, and timely integration of systems composed of multiple UAS into the NAS, namely operation of multiple aircraft by a single pilot.
At present, FAA has taken steps toward the full integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) by considering waivers for expanded and non-segregated operations. Expanded and non-segregated operations will afford UAS operations in the same airspace as manned aircraft. Such operations will most likely involve interaction between UAS pilots, manned pilots and air traffic controllers - in a similar manner as aircraft operations are conducted today under instrument flight rules (IFR).
This research is in direct response to the FAA Reform Act of 2018 directing research into disaster use of UAS. The FAA has identified a need to better integrate UAS into the fabric of disaster response/relief aviation operations and prevent unwanted incursion of UAS during such operations. Existing government research, sponsored by the Department of the Interior (DOI), is examining UAS use in disaster response, and this research recommends improvements to coordination and operations procedures and practices.
This Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outreach program is a continuation of previous ASSURE work. It focuses on the future unmanned aircraft system workforce and the use of real-world research results from other ASSURE efforts. The outreach conducted in this program is an effective way to educate and disseminate research results. Some of the efforts are focused specifically on student instruction and some on “teaching the teachers”.
This research is focused on safely integrating UAS operations with airport operations, on and around airport surfaces with manned aircraft operations, and on and around the same surfaces. The depth of research expertise at the universities involved affords the selection of a set of experts to spearhead a specific use case and shepherd the constructs of each use case through completion. The team will move each use case forward as it reaches key task milestones instead of waiting for the completion of that task for all use cases.
This research identifies severities of UAS flight disruption due to wake turbulence. In addition, the team will create a vehicle to demonstrate safe flutter flight testing procedures for UAS. Flutter—the unstable vibrations within an aircraft that can lead to structural damage or failure—testing is generally one of the most dangerous aircraft-conducted flight tests, so this team hopes to contribute to a safer exploration into studying it. This research is to be used to help FAA assess the risk of flight disruption, damage or failure, and to develop policy, guidance, and procedures for mitigating UAS wake turbulence encounters.
The vision to revolutionize mobility within metropolitan areas is a new frontier in aviation. Supporting accessible air transport systems for passengers and cargo by working with the urban air mobility (UAM) community to identify and address the opportunities and key challenges ahead is an emerging role for FAA. The UAM ecosystem and its associated technologies are likely to be among the most complex aviation have ever encountered.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (IJAS) technology is evolving rapidly, and the FAA is working to keep pace with industry to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System. A gap in UAS integration is having standards developed by industry which FAA can use for policy and rulemaking activity. When all current standards and standards in development are identified and cataloged, research leading to future standards can be identified.
The proposed work will complete a literature review of cybersecurity concerns and resulting potential safety issues with the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS). The work aims to support the establishment of a baseline model to identify and assess cybersecurity-related risks of integrating UAS into NAS and undertaking a survey of strategies for managing such risks.
The tasking for this work operationally validates that the ASTM International (ASTM) Remote Identification (Remote ID, or RID) Broadcast standards satisfy stakeholder needs. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Remote ID states that the proposed rulemaking is intended to facilitate onboard pilot awareness of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and to also facilitate certain Detect and Avoid technologies. This research will provide data artifacts that are needed to enable FAA's acceptance of ASTM Remote ID and ASTM Detect and Avoid standards.
The vision to revolutionize mobility within metropolitan areas and beyond is one of the new frontiers in modern aviation. Building on the gradual successes of Part 135 applications under the Integration Pilot Program (IPP) paving the way to unmanned air cargo followed eventually by unmanned passenger transport. An emerging role for FAA will develop by working with the community to identify and address the key differences between unmanned and manned operations, opportunities, and challenges ahead underlying this likely development.
The vision to revolutionize mobility is one of the new frontiers in modem aviation. Building on the anticipated successes of Part 135 applications under the Integration Pilot Program (IPP) while supporting accessible air transport systems, unmanned air cargo would be first to emerge to integrate unmanned mobility with the need to carry cargo.
The inclusion of large numbers of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) may pose unique hazards to other aircraft sharing the airspace. It is necessary to determine the potential severity of sUAS mid‐air collisions with aircraft in order to define an Equivalent Level of Safety to manned aviation.
Unvalidated or unavailable GPS and "ADS‐B In" data poses security and safety risks to automated UAS navigation and to Detect and Avoid operations. Erroneous, spoofed, jammed, or dropouts of GPS data may result in unmanned aircraft position and navigation being incorrect. This may result in a fly away beyond radio control, flight into infrastructure, or flight into controlled airspace.
Certain small UAS (sUAS) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations, such as structural inspection, maybe near structures that are collision hazards for manned aircraft. These types of operations that are close to manned aviation flight obstacles such that they provide significant protection from conflicts and collisions with maimed aircraft are termed "shielded" operations.
This research will evaluate Visual Observer (VO) I Remote Pilot (RP) performance in maintaining separation from manned aircraft. Research tasks will be traced to Part 107.29, 107.31, 107.33, and Part 107.37. The research will also identify and develop visual observer training recommendations for daytime, dusk, and nighttime operations.
Complete Mid‐Air Collision (MAC) risk assessments require estimates of both collision severity and collision likelihood. This research focuses on sUAS MAC likelihood analysis with General Aviation (GA) and Commercial aircraft. Because severity research varies based on where a collision occurred on a manned aircraft, this likelihood research will not only look at the probability of MAC but also the likelihood of colliding with different parts of a manned aircraft.
This research will aggregate high-quality UAS flight data with commercial and general aviation flight data and surveillance data, to develop enhanced safety analyses for NAS stakeholders and to support UAS integration in the NAS. The overarching purpose of this research is to enable the safe integration of UAS in the NAS through building upon existing aviation database and data‐sharing efforts encouraged and endorsed by participating government‐industry entities.