Brooks D.,ISR Group Inc.
AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013 | Year: 2013
The explosive growth in the capabilities and potential uses of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has led to increased demand to leverage the capabilities of these systems. Both public and private organizations have a desire to conduct UAS-focused Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) activities that support the development and validation of non-military UAS and related equipment. But for many organizations, the significant investment and steep learning curve associated with creating an organic UAS flight capability has presented significant time and cost challenges in terms of infrastructure, maintenance, and personnel. Leveraging commercial UAS airfields allows UAS-oriented research institutions, manufacturers and integrators to conduct robust, extensive flight testing without a substantial investment in airfield infrastructure or a dedicated flight department. The use of dedicated UAS airfields allows these organizations to quickly and cost-effectively conduct flight test of UAS, sensor/payload equipment, or component systems without the need to stand up a robust flight operation. The fixed location of the airfield, combined with the ability to develop and apply appropriate and validated safety processes and operational procedures, speeds the regulatory approval process. As with any aviation facility, there is a broad landscape of considerations that must be assessed when evaluating candidate sites/approaches for a potential UAS airfield. This paper explores some of the key factors that support the success of such a facility within the framework of the current regulatory environment.