The Eurhythmics lyrics for “Sweet Dreams”
“Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world
And the seven seas,
Everybody’s looking for something.
Some of them want to use you – (Government Cronies)
Some of them want to get used by you – (Venture Capitalists)
Some of them want to abuse you – (FAA/ NASA)
Some of them want to be abused.” – (Droners/ Hipsters)
It seems that almost everyone is looking for some sweet dreams in the form of UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) cash, but lack the expertise to run anything legitimate up the flagpole so they hide behind the same couple of concepts a few people have borrowed from the military and NASA. I am here to set the record straight we have major problems to overcome before we can even begin a UTM system in this country, meanwhile, Europe is outpacing the US to my estimates of 7 to 1 years of innovation meaning every year we spend they get 7 times the innovation.
UTM isn’t a Sweet Dream for starters we need to solve these 3 problems now and the problems are decades old and should not be a piecemeal UTM. If I may borrow a quote from Patrick Egan “the current NASA UTM plan looks like a Winchester Mystery House with no real solutions or endgame plans.” It when carefully diagnosed under the careful eye of an ATC/NAS expert it is easy to see this has not been thought out very well. It seems that most people are building UTMs in their own ecosystem hoping that a VC will come in and fund their sweet dreams. This is also the dawn of the backyard UTM which is a mistake words like interoperability are used to convey knowledge when in fact the word is nothing more than a misleading distraction to cover up their unknowns that many in the manned ATC/NAS business have known about for years.
Here are the 3 problems
1) Command and Control Communication Links
2) ID / Tracking
3) Who Pays / Just Say No to Backyard UTMs.
Our biggest problem to overcome is a data communication system for command control and comms that can transmit reliably over a long distance. My grandfather was a Captain in Operation Aphrodite flying remote bombers into Europe during WW2. That mission was a failure with zero targets hit and every flight having a data comm problem even killing the eldest Kennedy son who may well have been president if it were not for his aircraft blowing up before he was to bail out due to a faulty ground igniting the munition charges. People who believe UTM is new are naive and lost, here is a recent report as of the 1975 publication of AIA that states the following:
“General Electric is working on a ground system that flies the RPV (UAS) coordinating close support with manned aircraft and ground troops under all weather conditions. Among the innovations mentioned are color television, surveillance radar able to identify enemy artillery.” In the same article that I did not post it also mentions package delivery to soldiers, does this sound familiar because this is the mid 1970’s so where is this system? It doesn’t exist because of the data comm issues have not been solved. Investors and companies want you to believe that you can fly sUAS BVLOS on the cheap safely and accurately 100 miles away, this is the big myth. Systems can only fly like this on satcomm systems which are currently very expensive and heavy. In Europe, for basic low tech operations, it does work marginally and I have heard of very small craft flying 20 to 40 miles and more, but that is hardly something to write home about when creating a UTM infrastructure for package delivery that isn’t real time and may have huge lag times for command and control.
ID & Tracking
No one has a solution for ID & Tracking that is 100% let me explain that this is a proliferation issue and the genie is out of the bottle. Much like guns in the US we just can’t have a recall on the millions of drones that are out in the wild and expect that everyone will show up to turn them over. It is easy to mandate a registration, but with no enforcement and incentive we get a fractional percent of actual drones in the sky. We should create some metrics that if you want to fly commercial fly on the UTM and weigh over a certain weight that you must adhere to registering and creating a unique license plate ID for lack of better word that is electronically delivered via a comm system much like what is used in manned aviation. Once again this is something we can’t agree on mostly because of the greedy people looking to “own” the market. We already see how many people don’t follow the rules, what are the incentives for the law-abiding citizens that want to make an honest wage? It seems to me they are being abused for following the rules with more burdens, while those willing to skirt the law or plain ignore it are out collecting the revenue. There is far too much bickering from those who would try to capitalize on the taxpayers with schemes for hire to contract cycles to come to any conclusions here, sweet dreams indeed.
Who Is Going to Pay for the Infrastructure?
We need growth from industry who will benefit from the use of a UTM not government handouts to unvetted and unqualified individuals to test their armchair theories because their sweet dreams turn sour. Things are strange now in Washington a town known for outsiders unlike the Thompson’s who laid roots back in the district in the 40s. We saw the district proper grow from only about 200,000 people from 1940 to 1960 its highest growth rate in 100 years. What did grow astronomically were the surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia from towns of a few thousand to a few million today, with the greatest concentration of wealth in our country by far. The seven wealthiest counties in the nation are all holding hands around Washington DC. There are around 30 towns and 7 counties as examples with Fairfax the biggest support unit to the nation’s capital growing from 98k in 1950 to a million in 2010. Guess who paid for all of that expansion? It was the defense industry; it wasn’t from the government giving handouts like people expect today.
Another example of growth from industry from history for us to think about is how the airlines pioneered navigation and laid the first airline routes inter-continentally. The genius of pioneers like Juan Trippe. He didn’t ask the government to go test his navigation aids and equipment or ask them for a check and if they worked he had airliners and investments to protect and needed to get across America and the Pacific now not after he wrote a white paper about his problems, held a committee and cried poor to the government which many businesses in the drone industry are doing today. He used his industry dollars to test, implement and install the navigation aids that airliners used to navigate. There is a great book titled “North Star Over My Shoulder” By Bob Buck one of the many pioneer airline pilots who was sent out with no navigation aids to find a town and deliver human passengers back in the 1930s. These people relied on company dollars and sheer guts which this drone industry lacks in a big way. It is because with drones there is no skin in the game meaning you screw up you lose some money and equipment not your life and those of others.
No Backyard UTMs
The new hipster buzzword is interoperability this means built-in communication, piecemeal jargon for we don’t have this figured out yet and we will get back to you when you come show us what we have to stitch together based on the numerous open source requirements. The aviation industry runs off of standards and if NASA can’t come up with a unified standard then they don’t have anything figured out. Backyard UTMs designed by scraped together parts like the Winchester House is setting yourself up for failure, APIs and apps are junk words coders want you to believe are going to make things work. In the old days when you got the engineers in one end of the room with the manned pilots on the other and the pilots told them to climb on board the aircraft with the engineer’s calculations and the pilot will use their own. Guess who always wins that conversation? It’s not the engineers or coders. So, you drone hipsters can take that failure word interoperability and shove up so far up your sweet dreams you prove you absolutely do not know a thing about aviation which is built on standards.
It is a shame and appalling that NASA would use this in their directives to plan for failures and patchwork standards it simply means that don’t have an answer. These people are saying we don’t have a standard yet so we are building a patchwork of protocols in hopes the taxpayers will figure this out because we can’t. Why not use a standard and stick with it is it that hard? Open source and standards do not work together and aviation is built on standards not open source and the tech geeks can go pound sand. Show me your deliverables of successful aviation using open source ATC and not just a flight controller.
Drones make up less than 1% of the economy of aviation and it’s not climbing its decreasing probably because of buzzwords describing future failure not built in success. Go ahead and build your backyard UTMs connect them across America using the NASA metrics I can tell you now you won’t get across the US on those codes and apps. If it is so easy coders prove me wrong with a flight, I can get you a waiver contact me and we will make pioneering history not sweet dreams (while the app geniuses line their pockets) taking money away from the taxpayer on what others are promising – sweet dreams.
Apps are not a solution to everything they are a shortcut to thinking and are consistently wrong, what does an app maker know about ATC? Nothing and NASA should back me up on the fact here there are less than 10 ATC wizards left in America and one of them is writing this article I don’t need to toot my horn people in charge know who I am and the rest are about 10 years from the grave. These fancy apps aren’t going to save anyone so why should we invest in a tracking app with a Google Map overlay and give the crown jewels over to a company like AirMap? They are nothing fancy in fact their app is junk and should have cost hundreds not millions, just ask any real sUAS pilot what they use and they will tell you manned aircraft resources that didn’t cost a million dollars to build and support. People these apps are a shortcut to thinking and will only lead to trouble unless designed using a standard which none of them has.
Build your own UTM have NASA comb it over and certify it that it is safe creating a unified not backyard hipster Winchester Mystery House UTM. End of rant I provide solutions so I challenge Google, Amazon, AirMap and NASA who chew through money with nothing to show to build your own UTM. You will certainly like Juan Trippe outpace government and be flying BVLOS with data, science, risk and probability rates in a year or less or just quit wasting the industries time on how best to screw over the taxpayer and own the system. You aren’t smart enough to solve any of the proposed problems I have laid out or they wouldn’t still be problems. I’ve revealed enough in this article to already save Billions of dollars in research and development to the industry and taxpayers.
If you want the facts and need law makers like the Senate and Congress involved to support these issues that seem weird schedule a call with me by visiting my website http://www.falconfoundationuas.com/ and sending me an email [email protected]
I have passed BVLOS waivers, manned ATC innovation in procedures, certification, equipment use, communication and more aviation experience (+20 years of innovation) than these interoperable drone pilots will ever have. I’ll sit on any panel and challenge them to science and data with my flight experience any day. If it costs my time you are going to pay me to attend plain and simple, the days of freebies for everyone is over put your money where your mouth is and quit pleading poor and asking the government to pay for your system Google and Amazon you obviously don’t know what you are doing.