GEOG 892
Geospatial Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

The Need for Regulations


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was created in 1958 in response to a series of fatal accidents and midair collisions involving commercial aircraft. The FAA was mandated to develop plans and policies for the use of navigable airspace to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. Prescribed air traffic regulations should cover the flight of aircraft (such as safe altitudes) for navigating, protecting, and identifying aircraft; protecting individuals and property on the ground; using the navigable airspace efficiently; and preventing collision between aircraft, between aircraft and land or water vehicles, and between aircraft and airborne objects.

Since the creation of the FAA, American airspace has become one of the most regulated fields in the United States. With the introduction of UASs, the FAA has had to examine and ensure that these pilotless aircraft can operate safely and meet all the above mentioned regulations. The NAS is already congested with piloted aircraft, and adding a swarm of UAVs requires thoughtful planning. The FAA's main mandate is to ensure that UASs do not endanger current users of the NAS (including manned or other unmanned aircraft) nor compromise the safety of the people and property on the ground.

When it comes to the safe operation and integration of the UAS into the NAS, one of the main concerns that the FAA has is the lack of detect, sense, and avoid capability of the current UAS technology. The FAA did a thorough literature review to stand on what is possible and what is not along this line. The article listed in the reading assignment of this section details the FAA quest for the detect, sense, and avoid possibilities.

To Read

  1. Read sections 3.1 and 3.2 of the article “Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Remote Sensing and Scientific Research: Classification and Considerations of Use," which briefly discusses regulations governing the use of the UAS.
  2. Read the FAA "Literature Review on Detect, Sense, and Avoid Technology for Unmanned Aircraft Systems" which details the FAA quest for technology to support detect, sense, and avoid capability of the UAS.