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DOT and FAA Propose New Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

February 15, 2015 Comments off

DOT and FAA Propose New Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations.

The FAA proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.

The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. The FAA is asking the public to comment on this possible classification to determine whether it should include this option as part of a final rule. The FAA is also asking for comment about how the agency can further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.”

Tricyclic Antidepressants Found in Pilots Fatally Injured in Civil Aviation Accidents

January 21, 2015 Comments off

Tricyclic Antidepressants Found in Pilots Fatally Injured in Civil Aviation Accidents (PDF)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

Since the 1950s, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have been used for treating depression. The prevalence of this group of antidepressants in the pilot population has not been explored. Therefore, the National Transportati on Safety Board (NTSB) aviation accident and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) toxicology and medical certification databases were searched for the necessary information related to pilots fatally injured in aviation accidents.

During 1990 – 2012, CAMI received biological samples of fatally injured pilots from 7,037 aviation accidents for toxicological evaluation. Of these, 2,644 cases (pilot fatalities) were positive for drugs. TCAs were present in 31 pilo t fatalities. Only TCAs were found in nine cases; in addition to TCAs, other substances were also present in the remaining 22 cases. Blood samples were available for TCA analysis in only 17 cases. TCA blood concentrations ranged from therapeutic to toxic l evels.

The NTSB determined that the use of drugs and ethanol as the probable cause or contributing factor in 35% (11 of 31) of the accidents, and six pilots had taken TCAs, as documented in their personal medical records and histories obtained by the NTSB . None of the 31 pilots reported the use of TCAs during their aviation medical examination, though 45% of them did report other drugs.

The present study disclosed that the prevalence of TCAs in aviators was less than 0.5% (31 of 7,037 cases). This study s uggests that aviators should fully disclose the use of medications at the time of their aviation medical examination for the improvement of aviation safety.

Drones — U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces FAA Exemptions for Commercial UAS Movie and TV Production

September 30, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces FAA Exemptions for Commercial UAS Movie and TV Production
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration has granted regulatory exemptions to six aerial photo and video production companies, the first step to allowing the film and television industry the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System. Secretary Foxx made the announcement on a conference call with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Chris Dodd, chairman and chief executive officer of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.

Secretary Anthony Foxx also determined that the UAS to be used in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness based on a finding they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. Those findings are permitted under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

FAA Approves First Commercial UAS Flights over Land

June 12, 2014 Comments off

FAA Approves First Commercial UAS Flights over Land
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has given approval for energy corporation BP and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturer AeroVironment to fly an AeroVironment Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska—the first time the FAA has authorized a commercial UAS operation over land.

Fact Sheet – The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program

May 21, 2014 Comments off

Fact Sheet – The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA requires airport sponsors to maintain a safe operating environment which includes conducting Wildlife Hazard Assessments and preparing Wildlife Hazard Management Plans, when there has been a wildlife strike. The Wildlife Hazard Management Plan identifies the specific actions the airport will take to mitigate the risk of wildlife strikes on or near the airport. The FAA’s wildlife hazard management program has been in place for more than 50 years and focuses on mitigating wildlife hazards through habitat modification, harassment technology, and research.

Selection of the Next Generation of Air Traffic Control Specialists: Aptitude Requirements for the Air Traffic Control Tower Cab in 2018

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Selection of the Next Generation of Air Traffic Control Specialists: Aptitude Requirements for the Air Traffic Control Tower Cab in 2018 (PDF)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration (Office of Aerospace Medicine)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) faces two significant organizational challenges in the 21st century: (1) transformation of the current NAS into the Next Generation Air Transportation System (“NextGen”); and (2) recruitment, selection, and training the next generation of air traffic control specialists (ATCSs or air traffic controllers). What aptitudes should be assessed in the selection of future air traffic controllers? This report, the first of three, focuses on the aptitudes required in the air traffic control tower cab. First, the aptitude profile currently required at the time of hire into the ATCS occupation is described based on Nickels, Bobko, Blair, Sands, & Tartak (1995). Second, mid-term (2018) changes in the tower cab are described. Change drivers include increased traffic and the introduction of five decision support tools (DSTs): 1) Airport Configuration; 2) Departure Routing; 3) Runway Assignment; 4) Scheduling and Sequencing; and 5) Taxi Routing (with Conformance Monitoring). Third, the impact of these DSTs on tower cab operational activities, sub-activities, and tasks was assessed. Overall, the activities, sub-activities, and tasks of the controllers in the Ground Control and Local Control positions in the cab will not change with the introduction of these DSTs and associated displays. However, the way the work is performed will change at the keystroke or interface level. Fourth, the impact of the DSTs on aptitudes required of controllers is evaluated. The importance of the following aptitudes will increase in the mid-term: Scanning, across both auditory and visual sources, Perceptual Speed and Accuracy, Translating Information, Chunking, Interpreting Information, Sustained Attention, Recall from Interruption, Situational Awareness, Long-Term Memory, Problem Identification, Prioritization, Time-Sharing, Information Processing Flexibility, and Task Closure/Thoroughness. Two new aptitude requirements were identified: Dispositional Trust in Automation; and Computer-Human Interface (CHI) Navigation. Gaps in current aptitude testing are identified, and recommendations presented for test development and validation to close the gap.

FAA Selects Six Sites for Unmanned Aircraft Research

December 30, 2013 Comments off

FAA Selects Six Sites for Unmanned Aircraft Research
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

After a rigorous 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country.
In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs.

A brief description of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future UAS use are below:

University of Alaska. The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations.

State of Nevada. Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen. Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport. Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.

North Dakota Department of Commerce. North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota’s application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.

Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.

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