Multiple agencies work toward standard UAV procedures


CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 hosted a live-fly joint test of RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles using a sense and avoid system Sept. 7 and 8 at Cherry Point.

The sense and avoid system is used to positively identify, track and maintain separation among manned and unmanned aircraft in the airspace. The goal of the test is to create tactics, techniques and procedures for standard operating procedures to propose to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The test combined personnel from Cherry Point Air Traffic Control, VMU-2, Civil Air Patrol, Army Personnel and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airspace Integration Joint Test Group, Northern Command and Naval Air Systems Command.

With UAS employment expanding, the need to establish a baseline and common ground is becoming more essential every day, said Thomas Baker, the director of UAS joint integration. Developing standard operating procedures within the Department of Defense and Federal Aviation Administration will facilitate access to airspace currently unavailable to unmanned aircraft, he said.

“There are a wide variety of operational standards in the DOD depending on the service and their location,” said Maj. Chris Bailey, the director of emergency services with the Civil Air Patrol. “Each UAS has a different set of performance characteristics and the goal of this testing is to provide a baseline for all UAS operations.”

Currently, in order for a flight to take place personnel involved are required to transport aircraft in a vehicle from a storage location to an authorized launch location where it can fly only along restricted pathways. The new system will provide air traffic control personnel with clear visibility of UAV’s, ensuring their ability to maintain separation and safety.

This is the first year of a three-year joint testing period. The Department of Defense, Civil Air Patrol and the FAA are conducting initial briefs, simulator flights and live-fly tests to create a common set of procedures for all aircraft to follow.

The proposed policies and procedures are expected to make it less difficult and more effective for operators to train and fly unmanned aircraft.

“If this testing is a success, it will allow operators to train and fly more frequently,” said Cpl. Christopher J. Anagnos. “This will ultimately allow for expansion of the usage of UAV’S and more proficient and unrestricted flights,” said the UAV operator with VMU-2.

The data collected during this three-year test will be analyzed by the FAA in 2015 for viability and safety before it is implemented.

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