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NASA Research & Development Sources Sought for Airworthiness Certification Case Study for UAS

Synopsis – Feb 08, 2012

General Information

Solicitation Number: N/A
Reference Number: NND12UACCCS
Posted Date: Feb 08, 2012
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Feb 08, 2012
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Mar 25, 2012
Current Response Date: Mar 25, 2012
Classification Code: A — Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center, Code A, P.O. Box 273, Edwards, CA 93523-0273


NASA/DFRC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for participation in a case study to draft a type certification basis for the airworthiness of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) is seeking information from all interested parties, including Small, Small Disadvantaged (SDB), 8(a), Woman-owned (WOSB), Veteran Owned (VOSB), Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SD-VOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) businesses, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)/Minority Institutions (MI) for the purposes of determining the appropriate level of competition and/or small business subcontracting goals for the Airworthiness Certification Case Study for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The Government reserves the right to consider a Small, 8(a), Woman-owned (WOSB), Service Disabled Veteran (SD-VOSB), or HUBZone business set-aside based on responses hereto.

The case study is being conducted as part of NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System Project. The goal is to advance formation of the UAS certification process by developing a type certification basis for a UAS (including the aircraft, communication links, ground control elements, and other supporting equipment). The case study would involve working with a team from NASA to identify all existing Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) that apply to the UAS, proposed exemptions from the regulations, and proposed special conditions. The case study would also evaluate the results to determine applicability to other UAS.

The case study requires detailed design information about a manufacturer’s UAS, sufficient to establish the type certification basis, as well as interaction with the manufacturer to understand the design and intended operational scenarios or use cases. The case study would follow the practices used for establishing a type certification basis for a manned aircraft, but would benefit from leveraging existing work by the FAA on the theoretical applicability of the current body of regulations to UAS. The process involves development of issue papers as per Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Order 8110.112 as the means for accomplishing the steps in the type certification process. The expectation is that the process of determining a proposed type certification basis for a UAS would help identify: (1) existing regulations that clearly apply to the proposed UAS, (2) existing regulations that may need modification or UAS-specific interpretation to apply, (3) existing regulations that do not apply and should be exempted, and (4) where special conditions may be needed to identify safety issues not addressed in the FARs or other guidance, or for novel or unusual design features specific to that UAS. Documenting the rationale for all of these findings is an important part of the case study.

This case study would provide an empirical evaluation of airworthiness requirements for UAS to help validate the theoretical work, would lay the groundwork for type certification of the UAS under study, and could expedite establishment of a UAS certification process that could be implemented by the FAA. Because any single case study would only address those regulations relevant to the particular UAS under study, the results would not represent a comprehensive assessment of all regulations or those necessary for other UAS. However, the potential exists to provide an initial step in the type certification process for one or more UAS to operate in the National Airspace System (NAS) for civil use.

The case study is targeting UAS platforms that weigh more than 55 lbs; that are fixed wing, rotary wing, or hybrid aircraft; and that are intended to operate within the U.S. National Airspace System for commercial/civil application. NASA prefers vehicles that represent a broad segment of UAS types rather than a narrow segment or a unique vehicle. Special purpose operations typical of a restricted category aircraft (e.g., aerial surveying, pipeline patrolling, agricultural spraying or monitoring, and forest and wildlife conservation) are targeted in addition to those operations typical of normal category aircraft. UAS used exclusively for experimental or recreational purposes, or whose operation is within the purview of FAA regulation expected for “small” UAS, are beyond the scope of this effort.

The intended partnership between NASA and one or more industry partners will jointly: define the intended mission or use case for a UAS, evaluate the UAS design to identify potential certification issues, develop a certification basis worksheet that will identify all applicable requirements, exemptions, and special conditions that are anticipated, develop a compliance checklist, document rationale for all findings, and evaluate the results for applicability to other UAS. At a minimum, the draft type certification basis and any reports on the process and extension of the results are intended for open and public distribution.

Qualified providers are considered to be U.S. commercial entities that are established and recognized developers of UAS, who have previous history in the successful development and production of a UAS. Experience with FAA certification processes is desirable, but not required.

Interested companies are invited to submit specific information on the following topics:

1. Category of offeror: Indicate your status as a UAS manufacturer. Provide data on previous development of UAS. Indicate whether any of your UAS have flown under an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) or experimental certificate. Indicate any experience with the FAA’s type certification process.

2. UAS type: Describe UAS for consideration for the case study. Description should include the following, as a minimum: aircraft weight, aircraft dimensions, operational altitude, speed and endurance, means of propulsion, ground control station, communication links, and launch/recovery methods (if non-conventional). List any novel features of the proposed UAS other than the systems and equipment needed to support unmanned operations (such as unusual aerodynamic configurations, novel structural designs, or novel propulsion systems). Identify whether there are subsystems of the UAS that you would consider out of scope for any type certification study.

3. UAS use case: Describe the mission(s) or proposed commercial application(s) for the UAS to be considered for the case study and the expected operational environment, including operation restrictions. Describe the class of airspace used for the application and the means to meet airspace operational requirements such as compliance with “see and avoid” (14 CFR 91.113) requirements and timely compliance with air traffic control instructions.

4. Public distribution of results: Indicate your willingness to agree to open and public distribution of the draft type certification basis and any reports on the process and extension of the results.

Prospective offerors are invited to submit written technical comments or questions to: Kelly Hayhurst, no later than March 25, 2012. When responding reference “Airworthiness Certification Case Study for Unmanned Aircraft Systems”. Comments may be submitted to Ms. Hayhurst via electronic transmission: kelly[email protected] or by facsimile transmission: 757-864-4234.

Interested offerors/vendors having the required specialized capabilities to meet the above requirement should submit as a minimum, a brief description of your relevant company capabilities, products and services, history, and other specific information, as requested in this solicitation, to indicate the ability to perform all aspects of the effort described herein. Specific information related to any or all of the topics identified above is desired. As part of your information package, please include company Technical Point(s) of Contact including address, telephone number, and e-mail address. The information package should be provided as a PDF document and the upload should not exceed 10 pages.

Please advise if the requirement is considered to be a commercial or commercial-type product. A commercial item is defined in FAR 2.101.

At its discretion, NASA may request further discussions and/or clarifications of the information submitted in the early 2012 time frame. If agreeable to both parties, such discussions may take place via teleconferencing or an on-site visit at NASA Langley Research Center facilities in Hampton, Virginia, at the offeror’s expense. If they do occur, discussions will be limited to a two hour time duration, and will consist of vendor presentations and subsequent discussions of the presented material only. Representatives from NASA and their Contractors may be present for such discussions.

This synopsis is for information and planning purposes and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government nor will the Government pay for information solicited. Respondents will not be notified of the results of the evaluation. Respondents deemed fully qualified will be considered in any resultant solicitation for the requirement.

An ombudsman has been appointed — See NASA Specific Note “B”.

No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation is released it will be synopsized in FedBizOpps and on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service. The solicitation and any documents related to the procurement will be available over the Internet. These documents will reside on a World Wide Web (WWW) server, which may be accessed using a WWW browser application. The Internet site, or URL, for the NASA/DFRC Business Opportunities home page is: . It is the potential offeror’s responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of the solicitation and amendments (if any). Potential offerors will be responsible for downloading their own copy of the solicitation and amendments, if any.

All responses shall be submitted to Lisa A. Jackson or Andrea C. Basham no later than March 25, 2012. Please reference NND12UACCCS in any response.

Any referenced notes may be viewed at the following URLs linked below.

Point of Contact

Name: Lisa A Jackson
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 661-276-2154
Fax: 661-276-2904
Email: [email protected]

Name: Andrea C Basham
Title: Contract Specialist
Phone: 661-276-6126
Fax: 661-276-3374
Email: [email protected]

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2 thoughts on “NASA Research & Development Sources Sought for Airworthiness Certification Case Study for UAS
  1. So does the “more than 55 pounds” suggest that smaller craft, like multi rotor drones used for photography at less than 400 will not have to be certified or at least you won’t have to go through as many hoops?

  2. Still to be determined… ASTM F-38 is working the issue, but there will more than likely be something.

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