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UAS Standards Being Developed by ASTM

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As the skies become more crowded, UAS standards will help integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System (NAS) — and even to operate beyond visual line of sight.

By: Jack Maxwell in ASTM SN Online.

Package delivery. Infrastructure inspection. Traffic management. Search and rescue operations. And someday — cue “The Jetsons” theme song — maybe even your own trips around town. When it comes to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), the sky is most emphatically not the limit. It’s the starting point for a new world
of exciting possibilities.

Tasks like those listed here (and many more) could become simpler thanks to the speed, flexibility, and birds-eye perspective provided by UAS. And in fact, “someday” is right around the corner. From Amazon and Walmart to utilities and emergency-response teams, organizations have been exploring the potential of drones for years, and in some cases, have already begun using them in limited pilot programs.

However, a number of interrelated issues need to be resolved before this technology can realize its full potential, including digital identification protocols for unmanned aircraft, real-time coordination between UAS service supplier and traffic management systems, and the ability to safely operate unmanned aircraft remotely.

Part of ASTM International’s committee on unmanned aircraft systems (F38), the subcommittee on flight operations (F38.02) is working on several key standards that will help address these concerns.
Crowded Skies

As implementation of UAS initiatives continues to expand, a tipping point will eventually be reached at which there are more aircraft in the sky operating without pilots than with them. Some of F38’s most important work is in the area of inter-system communication and digital-visibility standards that are designed to maintain a safe aerial environment.

“If you look at traditional air-traffic management, the people in the control tower are monitoring all the traffic and providing separation services,” says Amit Ganjoo, founder and president of ANRA Technologies and a member of the subcommittee on flight operations. “That was fine for crewed or legacy manned aviation, but when you move to the uncrewed world, the scale is different. Currently, you have around 10,000 aircraft in the sky at a given time. When you move to an uncrewed world, you’ll eventually have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the sky.”

For the complete article on UAS standards CLICK HERE.

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