UAS 2011, the FAA don’t pitch up!

Patrick Egan

I had written something entirely different with an overview of the day-by-day happenings. Who said what, the highlights of their respective presentations yada, yada, yada until I almost bored myself to tears.

Drudgery! No guaranties are implied that this iteration will be livelier.

However, I plan on only relaying my high altitude takeaway of the conference as an experience and less of an abstract picture of a conference. This version is interactive in the sense that it gives the reader a chance to proactively weigh in on the Global Airspace Integration effort.

The conference in a nutshell was a meeting for most of the standards groups et al to present to the other groups and individuals, giving an overview of what work they’ve accomplished in the previous year as well as milestones made with applications of systems and technologies. (Too much information to shoehorn into one article.) Those types of mega articles are usually only enjoyed by incurable insomniacs who have already devoured the FAR/AIM book, and possibly if one exists, the UAS fanboy set.  (Last rumored to be running amok in the Oklahoma City area.)

Those groups include:

ASTM

EASA

EUROCAE

ICAO

JARUS

RTCA

You can visit the website to see the conference program for a complete listing of who presented on what topics. http://www.uas2011.org

The conference concluded with a workshop on UAS CONOPS, but I believe what they are really after are application CONOPS.

Here’s the interactive part… These application scenarios should basically be a 1 or 2 page small business case for the use of UAS- more than likely built around the smalls, can be done now or tomorrow (very near future) and are capable of supporting themselves (viable) with some sort of societal benefit.

They will be collected by the UVS International and submitted to the European Commission. Submission deadline is June 30.

I can help collect them or you can join UVS International and submit them there.     http://www.uvs-international.org/

Glaring was the lack of representation by the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Program Office (UAPO).

The official reason given is budgetary constraints, but there were other theories swirling about from folks plugged into various parts of the beast. That just comes with the territory working the integration effort… everyone has a different take on what’s going on and why, all relative to what they’ve heard from whom.

Many of the attendees were hoping to get an update from Rick Prosek, head of the program office, on the direction with some final commentary on what will be put out in the NPRM, why the date had been moved back to the middle of November this year etc.

The official reason is plausible, they may have succumb to the great recession, but difficult for the author to imagine that the UAPO would miss such a high level conference with so many of the European groups being represented; A symbolic blow to their leadership claims in the global harmonization efforts that have been fostered over the past several years.

I couldn’t help but sense some subtle frustrations from some of our European counterparts. A reaction probably made worse by the FAA not showing up???

The more to the story is what is perceived as U.S. regulatory foot dragging while tooting the horn that they are leading the way on airspace integration. (First I’ve ever heard of such a notion as I was under the impression it was full steam ahead ;-)

There are other thoughts, interpretations and conclusions about what is and what isn’t being accomplished by the UAPO. Meanwhile, UK CAA is allowing flights and I believe that there are presently around 85 companies authorized to operate commercially in the UK. If we take a look at the scoreboard, the U.S. has a big fat zero in that category.

Till next week..

 

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Patrick Egan
Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).