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ASTM International Committee on Unmanned Aircraft Systems Cooperating with FAA on Small UAS Standards Development

ASTM International Committee F38 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) was recently requested by the Federal Aviation Administration to assist with the development of industry consensus standards to support the integration of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) into the U.S. national airspace system (NAS).

Following a model that was successfully used for the integration of light sport aircraft some years ago, the FAA is considering the issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) first, followed by a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) that would permit sUAS to fly in the NAS for compensation or hire. Prior to any such sUAS operations, the FAA would require operators to comply with rules and standards to ensure the safety of other airspace users as well as persons and property on the ground. In August 2009, the FAA queried standards development organizations for their willingness, capacity and competency to create a finite set of standards that would be uniquely applicable to this and ASTM Committee F38 was one of only two bodies approved to perform this groundbreaking work.

The work that F38 has now embarked upon is a natural extension of efforts recently completed by an FAA sUAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). In April 2008, FAA Order 1110.150 chartered an ARC to “conduct a formal safety analysis of small UAS” with an ultimate objective to “promulgate federal regulations for their design, operation and registration.” ARC participation included a broad range of interests from the aviation sector (both manned and unmanned), including aviation associations and unions, manufacturers, academia and expected sUAS end-users. Committee F38 participated on the ARC as a voting member of the main committee and provided five subject matter experts (SME’s) to serve on the various ARC subcommittees.

During an F38 strategic planning meeting held in February 2010, FAA representatives provided preliminary guidance and desires for a suite of priority standards. The members of F38 then built a framework for this standards work, assigned technical leads and committed to an execution timeline. The result is an aggressive standards development program that includes 14 new standards to be forged by October 2010, as well as a list of additional standards that have been placed in the queue. Technical personnel from all disciplines, including pilots, sensor operators and engineers, are being sought to assist us in this process.

“This is an exciting time in F38’s six-year history. We are energized and moving quickly to forge new standards in order to meet our industry’s ambition for routine commercial access to the NAS for sUAS within the next 18 to 24 months. This vitally important work will help unleash the economic engine and job creation that commercial UAS flight promises, but this work must be accomplished with rigor and a focus on safety,” says Jim Jewell, F38 membership secretary. “Therefore, we need all stakeholders to participate and are actively recruiting technical points of contact and committee leaders to guide the development of these standards.”

ASTM International welcomes and encourages participation in the development of its standards. For more information on becoming an ASTM member, visit

Technical Contact: James Jewell, UAV MarketSpace Inc., Phone: 516-238-5604; [email protected]
ASTM Staff Contact: Daniel Schultz, Phone: 610-832-9716; [email protected]
ASTM PR Contact: Barbara Schindler, Phone: 610-832-9603; [email protected]

Release #8587/May2010