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Hi , this is Dr. Pat Ford. Welcome to the first module on Unmanned Aerospace

Hi , this is Dr. Pat Ford. Welcome to the first module on Unmanned Aerospace Systems as part of the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide College of Aeronautics, Massive Online Open Course – or MOOC.

This will be the first of two modules and, as just addressed in my introductory video, we’ll be covering a lot of information in a fairly short period of time.

The goal is to be able to focus the MOOC on those that are new

The goal is to be able to focus the MOOC on those that are new to unmanned aerospace systems, or UAS, providing you with an entry level knowledge of several aspects. First of all is UAS Basics. What are UAS all about? How are they used? How are they described? We’ll also talk about the general UAS operating environment – where you can operate, where you can’t, where the UAS environment as a whole is going. How is it changing?

We’ll talk about, in Module Two, the National Airspace System – or the NAS. And, we’ll talk about safe flying procedures throughout both modules.

We’ll take a look at the UAS flight approval process, initially just as a recreationist or hobbyist in Module One, but then we’ll jump ahead in Module Two and look a little bit more in -depth, specifically at 333 exemptions.

We’ll also look at the COA process – or the Certificate of Authorization process - as a whole and how public entities and commercial entities differ in their ability to fly and approval process to fly a UAS within the National Airspace System.

The MOOC includes a multi-week form to ask questions. You’ll see the term “Ask the experts”. There’s an entire group of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, College of Aeronautics staff ready to jump in, help, respond to your questions that you may have as you go through this MOOC.

So , there’s some other aspects to remember. There are a lot of additional resources

So , there’s some other aspects to remember. There are a lot of additional resources on the internet, and there are a lot of great resources. Be sure to check those out. This course is just one small aspect of the broader knowledge that you really should have as you move forward flying UAS, be it for recreational, commercial, or public use.

And, depending on your background, each of these resources will provide you with very different perspectives on the world of UAS. For those that are new to UAS, and are not actual manned aircraft pilots having certificates for sport, private, or commercial operation, you’ll look at things very differently than someone who has already flown in the airspace but is trying to learn more about UAS. Some of the members that have joined, or participants for the course, are actually taking this course to better understand UAS even if they’ll never fly one. They want to know what they’re up against and, what I mean by that is not a derogatory comment; but, rather, they’re up against new concepts, new flight areas that must be dealt with as manned aircraft fly through the National Airspace System and share that with UAS. And we’ll talk a lot about those aspects as we move forward.

Now , if you’re flying an unmanned aircraft in the NAS, remember something very important:

Now , if you’re flying an unmanned aircraft in the NAS, remember something very important: you are a pilot. Once you leave the ground and you’re in open airspace outside a building, you’re flying here in the United States within the National Airspace System. Be responsible and don’t take it lightly. Even a small UAS can cause damage or death to someone in a manned aircraft that loses power due to a UAS being sucked into an engine cowling, or crashes through the windscreen. So, remember, fly responsibly and be proud of the fact that you’re a pilot within the safest National Airspace System the world knows.

Second, look at most UAS rules as really common sense. Don’t worry about the fact so much that rule XYZ states you should or shouldn’t do this. Read the rules and understand that most of these are based on common sense. And we’ll talk about those as we go through the course.

And, finally, when in doubt, stay on the ground until you’re ready to fly. If you go outside and you’re ready to fly or think you are and something doesn’t look right – something doesn’t feel right – the chances are it probably isn’t. Go back in, do a little bit more research. Make some phone calls. Talk to other people that fly UAS, radio controlled aircraft, and find out what it is that’s bothering you – what it is that you think just doesn’t seem right. Because, again you can trust your gut feelings in many cases, because they are often right.

OK, well let’s go ahead and get started into more in -depth discussions here in Module One.

First of all, I keep referring to UAS, or Unmanned Aerospace Systems, and not unmanned

First of all, I keep referring to UAS, or Unmanned Aerospace Systems, and not unmanned aircraft vehicles or drones. And the reason I do that is because it really is a system, and that system consists of many different elements. Let’s take a minute just to talk about those.

Well, first of all, you have the operator or the pilot of the UAS. That’s you. That’s the person that’s going to go out and actually fly with their vehicle. And you’ll be doing that using a ground control station. Now you may not think of a small handheld controller here in the operator’s hand as a ground control station, but that really is exactly what it is. It’s a system that’s used to go back and forth and actually be able to have telemetry, or control, of the UAV and, also, receive video and feedback from the UAV when and as needed in order to be able to perform the mission or the actions that the operator wants.

And, of course, you have the UAV itself, the vehicle portion of the UAS. And you’ll have a payload; in this case, showing a small high -definition camera.

And you’ll have support equipment. It might be extra propellers. It might be your smart phone with some of the later FAA software up and running. It might be power supplies to charge your system. But that all creates the UAS environment.

That environment is similar across both small platforms and larger platforms. Now what I mean by that is you may think of the operator in this case as just having a small quad rotor and, maybe, a box full of extra parts. Well, that may be the case but if we were to take that to one step further, this operator could actually be an operator within a mobile van that has high -power telemetry and video links, talking to a large unmanned aerial vehicle with a payload that could be a broad scope of different items. And there might also be an entirely different trailer outside which has the support equipment and the maintenance personnel to actually be able to go out and support the UAV.

So, don’t look at it as you being different in the process of that flow that occurs within what we call a UAS, or that system. That system is similar across multiple platforms, multiple users. The size may vary. The cost most certainly may vary. But the basic concept of being an unmanned aerospace system is very important to remember, and it’s common across multiple platforms and users.

Why use UAS? What’s their purpose? There’s a lot in the news obviously about such

Why use UAS? What’s their purpose?

There’s a lot in the news obviously about such systems as Predator, being used for military operations and, obviously, that receives a lot of news. But those same types of systems are being used by research groups, including such government agencies as NASA, to be able to do environmental research, meteorological research, an entire gambit of difference aspects that the platform can carry different sensors to do the job.

And there’s new platforms being developed – for agricultural use, for general surveillance and, in this case, I bring up the INSITU platform that’s shown. That platform was actually created to help the fishing industry and later moved into military use and continues to have a broad scope use in both military and the civilian environment.

Of course, there are many quad rotors out there today being used for everything from agricultural research to photography, both commercial and public use. A broad array of different things that are being developed for such systems and many of them being developed on the fly – things that had not been thought about before that a UAS could do.

Fixed -wing operations and small aircraft that are able to go out and actually search for cattle, search for wolves or the impact of wolves in some environment. Actually inspect roads after heavy snows.

Police departments and public use.

Using rotary wing aircraft to work on electrical lines and, by that I mean, actually go up and inspect electrical systems. Things that use to have to be done by a manned operator or a hoist or crane or even a rotary wing manned asset are now being done by UAS. And the reason we call UAS Unmanned Aerospace

Systems here at Embry Riddle is because there is the space aspect – systems such as the X37. But also unmanned systems that can be probes – that are out investigating other planets within the solar system or beyond – are also considered UAS.

UAS come in many categories and classes, and it can get pretty confusing because there’s

UAS come in many categories and classes, and it can get pretty confusing because there’s many different descriptions out there that discuss the altitude that can be flown, the weight of the aircraft during takeoff, how fast the system goes, etc. But, given the recent rulings by the FAA for recreational use, a better method or a straight -forward method to describe UAS might be the one shown here.

It breaks down to categories 0 through 3. By using categories 0 through 3, we have a straight forward approach on handling the new types of registrations and requirements for UAS.

Specifically, category 0 UAS would be one that is .55 pounds or less and does not require registration under the new rules.

Next would be category 1 which would be .56 pounds through 55 pounds. That includes the recreational categories but also is the start, at .56 pounds, of UAS that require registration under the new process.

Going up to category 2 we’re at 56 pounds and above, up through 1,320 pounds which, any of you that are sport pilots, might recognize that 1,320 pound max gross takeoff as the limit for a light sport aircraft as well.

And, then, above 1,320 pounds.

But, in this way, we focus on the weights and not the altitudes and other speed issues of the UAS when making the category. This will become more important as UAS continue to advance and smaller UAS are capable of flying to higher altitudes at higher speeds as integration into the NAS takes place over the decades to come.

So, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is: can you legally fly

So, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is: can you legally fly a UAS? So if I state that a little bit differently, the real question is: what type of UAS operator are you?

Now, you can be a public or government entity, which includes state governments, law enforcement, public universities, first responders.

Or, you could be a non -government entity or a civil user. And sometimes we’ll talk about commercial or for business and profit. A private university. So, for example, Embry Riddle would be considered a non -government entity because we are a private non -public university. And entrepreneurs flying for business pursuit in general.

And finally, you could be someone that’s actually manufacturing UAS.

Well, all of these different users require a different type of approval. Now, obviously, the individual or the hobbyist, which are the majority of the people that probably are signed up for this course, are recreational users. Alright, so they can go out and fly as needed. You can go ahead and register your UAS – we’ll talk about that in a minute – and you’re good to go, following the rules required.

However, if you’re a public government entity, you have to go through a fairly lengthy Certificate of Authorization – or a COA – process. Now, this COA process can take quite a while. It can take four, six, eight months or more to receive your COA and be able to fly.

Likewise, civil or non-government entities go through a 333 exemption process. The 333 exemption is also lengthy and it includes a Certificate of Authorization to fly once approved. Now, a way to look at this would be that the 333 exemption is actually the same as your automobile being authorized to drive on the road. But that doesn’t give you permission to drive it. You still need to have a license, and within that license could be constraints. So, the 333 exemption allows you to fly your vehicle legally. It doesn’t authorize you to do that – the COA will authorize that. So, what we’re really talking about is the platform being authorized as a safe platform to fly within the National Airspace System and, then, your license or certificate – the approval of the operator and his or her capabilities to go out and fly. And, do that for very specific reasons. All of that is part of the approval process that the FAA has to go through.

You’ll hear a lot of complaints off and on about delays with the FAA on approvals, but the other side of this is to look at the number of UAS that are being manufactured and put out into the National Airspace System and you’ll get a feel for how complex the problem is to match up a UAS that can be authorized to fly with an operator that is authorized to fly it on a mission or a role that is legal to do. And it goes on from there. And the UAS manufacturers, just like manned aircraft manufacturers would go after a type certificate. They want to be able to go out and prove that their UAS is worthy and safe to fly in the NAS, which will allow it to be considered for a 333 exemption and right on down the line. So, we’ll talk more about this in Module 2. It is a complex area, but it’s the current system and it’s going to be the current system for quite a while, so it’s worth talking about and, again, we’ll talk more about that in Module 2.

But, first things first before we go on. For those of you that are recreational

But, first things first before we go on. For those of you that are recreational or hobby users and your UAS that you have is not a class 0 – or .55 pounds and below – you’re required to register before you take your first flight in the NAS. If you have any doubts (and if you go to the FAA link – which is very quick to do – it takes maybe three to five minutes to register yourself to fly UAS, where you’ll be given a standard registration number for any UAS that you fly)… But if you have any doubts as to some of the questions the FAA may throw at you or some of the things that you may need to do to be legal and to fly safe, tune in to Module 2 of this MOOC, and some of that will be covered there as well as through Module 1. Again, a lot of websites, a lot of sources out there to help you fly safely and answer those questions.

So, there’s a lot of different types of UAS, but what about the launch methods

So, there’s a lot of different types of UAS, but what about the launch methods for the vehicles themselves? Well, one method is conventional, just like your standard manned aircraft taking off a grass field or asphalt or, in many cases, a very short parking lot. But it’s conventional. You’re rolling down the runway and you’re taking off.

You can have a bungee catapult approach that gets you up to speed. So, once you launch, the vehicle’s power plant, or engine, can take over and be able to continue flight at a safe speed required to remain airborne.

It might be a hand -launch system, which is getting to be very popular across a broad scope of industry and military use.

Vertical takeoff and landing, such as the YUNEEC Q500 shown here – one of the most common methods for launch.

And, larger rail launcher systems, such as the Scan Eagle here. Ruggedized, high power launch systems in order to be able to get over 55, 60, 70 pounds or more in the air, up to speed, in just 15 or 20 feet.

There’s new research out into different types of launch vehicles even from submarines. Tube launch, such as the switchblade system, air launch, and…

…from the recovery methods of returning: conventional, of course; netted systems; once again, vertical takeoff

…from the recovery methods of returning: conventional, of course;

netted systems;

once again, vertical takeoff and landing;

arrested systems, such as the Skyhook here for the INSITU platforms;

and parachute.

Now these aren’t the only launch and recovery methods, but the point being is that each individual UAS requires its own type of launch and recovery based on the size, the weight of the platform, the type of sensors being carried, and a variety of other elements that make up the UAS and drive the platform toward a specific launch and recovery method. For most of you that are out there in the audience today, vertical takeoff and landing will be the most common process and, specifically, quad rotors or rotary wing systems.

Now, with your UAS airborne, you want to be able to communicate with it, and

Now, with your UAS airborne, you want to be able to communicate with it, and we call that Command, Control and Communications, or C3. Now, Communications (this is the data or video between the UAS and the ground control station) and Command and Control, or C2, is UAS movement or actions actually controlling what the UAS is going to be doing. Now, that can be done with a basic controller, with no video whatsoever.

It can be done with a hand -held ground control system with actual video from the UAS.

It can be done with more advanced portable GCS – including laptops, amplifiers, data links – or,

obviously, it can be an all out control system such as the Raytheon common ground control system (or CGCS) shown here, which has advanced capability across the board.

So Command and Control Communications, and Command and Control (C3 and C2) will vary depending on the user, but in the end it’s the same basic process – a level of control and some level of being able to pass telemetry, or data control, between the vehicle and the ground and, possibly, video.

Now, C3 antennas vary from high gain dishes to cloverleaf antennas – which are getting

Now, C3 antennas vary from high gain dishes to cloverleaf antennas – which are getting to be very common on the UAS platforms – patch antennas, quarter wave verticals, Yagis. We’re not going to get into these today; but remember, on any of these systems the type of antenna required is going to be based on the portability requirements of the system, how far the UAS will actually be flying away from the ground control station, the environment, meteorologically. Is it in an area where there might be high humidity? Is it in a desert area? Things vary greatly based on those issues. And, so, you’ll see a variety of antennas, although the most common are going to be the cloverleaf and the quarter wave vertical for most users.

From the command and control perspective, there are two viewpoints for the pilot and the

From the command and control perspective, there are two viewpoints for the pilot and the operator. One is egocentric, the other exocentric.

Egocentric is having a view from the perspective of being on the air vehicle itself. Now, this can be very basic as in small screens on hand held ground control systems or it can be quite advanced as in the many forms of first person view goggles that are out for sale today.

Exocentric, on the other hand, is being outside the vehicle – similar to most radio -controlled airplanes in which no video may be coming in at all, but you’re watching the movements of the aircraft as it flies and you’re controlling it based on what you’re seeing from outside that aircraft.

In reality, many of the newer systems use a combination of both viewpoints. For example, you may launch and recover just by looking at the UAS and not using video whatsoever, but then may go to more of an egocentric view once airborne and actually inflight. So, again, two basic forms – egocentric and exocentric – used for command and control to provide the situation awareness, or viewpoints, for the system operator or pilot.

Now, on top of all of this, there are levels of autonomy. What do we

Now, on top of all of this, there are levels of autonomy. What do we really mean by that? Well, the most basic is manual control. The platform is really not autonomous at all. The operator has to have hands-on control of the vehicle in order to take off, fly, and land. One of the most common controls are the manual controls.

Now, semi -autonomous can be control where the flight is shared by both the operator and on -board computers and processing systems on the UAS. Now, this doesn’t have to be complex. This could be considered, for example, an auto-pilot, or waypoints, that you put into your quad rotor to go from points A, B, C, D, and E or, as shown here with the DJI systems and bumpers, to actually have collision avoidance where the system knows when to slow down near objects and help the operator. So, that would be the semi -autonomous look.

And, finally, we have autonomous, which I have listed here as “under construction”. Autonomy gets debated over and over again for several reasons. One is the ethics of something operating totally autonomous. The other side of that is: What is autonomy? What really makes a platform autonomous? In any case, we’re really not there yet. Artificial intelligence will begin to get us closer, but the point of letting a UAS launch and make decisions on its own based on changes in the environment, both foreseen and unforeseen, is quite a way down the line. So, what you’ll normally be discussing with levels of autonomy for the average user are manual and semi -autonomous modes.

So, your UAS or UAV is in flight. But what does that mean? Well, it

So, your UAS or UAV is in flight. But what does that mean? Well, it means you’re watching your UAS, you’re controlling it manually, semi -autonomously, but don’t confuse visual line of sight (vLOS) with communications line of sight (cLOS).

First of all, if you cannot visually see your UAS with just your own eyeballs, with the exception being if you need glasses to improve your vision or you’re wearing contacts, you are not legal. It doesn’t even matter if you’re still within communications with your UAS and you have a video feed from the vehicle and GPS data. If you cannot visually see your UAS, you are not within visual line of sight and you are not flying legally. And its very dangerous within the national airspace system for collisions to even think about doing that.

Also remember that observers – someone to go out and fly with you – are great, but don’t confuse the purpose of an observer. An observer makes for an awesome addition to look for other aircraft and let you know when you need to land. That observer might be standing next to you, or you might be talking with them over a hand held radio or cell phone an eighth of a mile or a quarter of a mile away, but that observer cannot take the place of the pilot or the operator for being within visual range. If the observer sees the UAS, but the pilot or operator does not, the UAS is not in visual line of sight and you are not flying legally, so keep that in mind.

And, again, as a pilot or operator, you cannot use binoculars or anything that gives you a longer range to the UAS based on using a magnification device. The reason for that is your field of view changes and you’re less likely to be able to see aircraft in the air that could be a collision hazard when you’re using binoculars or other devices.

Now, one way to look at this a little bit different is through what I

Now, one way to look at this a little bit different is through what I call the small UAS line of sight cell. Now, in this picture you’ve got the operator in the center and we know from all the rules that are out there today – and we’ll talk about more in the second module, especially – that you’re not supposed to fly more than 400 feet above ground level, or AGL. But you also have to keep your UAS within visual line of sight. That forms the first part of the cell.

But the other part of the cell is the communications line of sight. Now, the communications line of sight is normally going to be outside the visual range. So, there are times that you will be able to fly further than you can see, but you should not be doing that. Again, number one, it’s not safe; number two, it’s not legal. But communications line of sight can normally be further than your visual line of sight. But your flight needs to stop at your visual line of sight limits. So, your job, no matter what the communications cell size is, is to stay within your visual line of sight area in order to keep safe and to keep legal.

Now, this is one of the issues that people forget about when it comes to

Now, this is one of the issues that people forget about when it comes to visual line of sight. It’s not just that you are tracking where your UAS is located; the fact is that you may be the only one that can actually see your UAS within the airspace. That means a manned aircraft, flying at 400 or 500 feet, possibly lower, possibly a little bit higher, might not be able to see your UAS at all because of the angles at which the pilots have to look to see your UAS, which is downward. Now, there’s a great video from the Colorado Department of Agriculture we’re going to play at this point that really does a tremendous job of showing just how difficult it is for pilots to see UAS. So, let’s take a couple minutes and go ahead a watch that video. <Video plays> OK, so you get a real feel for just how difficult it is to see a UAS from the vantage point of a manned aircraft. So, keep in mind again, that you may be the only one that can see your UAS. That puts additional emphasis and responsibility on you as the UAS pilot or operator to avoid other aircraft.

And, finally, remember to look out and plan for command and control communications, or C3,

And, finally, remember to look out and plan for command and control communications, or C3, problems because they’re going to occur. This means some questions you can ask yourself that, again, are common sense, but you need to think about it before it happens.

First, what does your manufacturer’s manual say will happen if the control link is lost on your UAS? Is it going to return to base, or RTB? Will it just hover where it’s at so that you can try to regain link? Or is it going to drop from the sky? Or any combination of different things that could occur based on the manufacturers’ design? Know that ahead of time.

Another side of that is how long can your UAS fly until power is out? If you lose link or if it’s a runaway, how far can it go?

And based on how far it can go or how fast it can go, can you keep up with it by running on foot? Do you need to be on a bicycle chasing it? Do you need to have a car ready? Where is your UAS going? Can you try to maintain visual line of sight?

And which way is it going? And, based on that, who will you call if the link is lost? If you’re out in the middle of nowhere – 10 or 15 miles from any airport or anyone that could possibly be injured by your UAS – well, that may be a different situation. But if you’re closer to an airport, and let’s say you’re at the five and a half or six -mile point, does your UAS have enough power to fly into the airport area if heading in that direction? Most people are going to fly in an area that they’re commonly familiar with, so having the number of the airport manager or someone to call to give them a heads up there might be a problem is a huge step in being responsible within the National Airspace System in the use of your UAS.

And, finally, always remember your emergency landing procedures. Have you picked out spots to land if you have problems in flight? If your UAS could lose link and may land automatically, what’s underneath it?

Is it going to land in someone’s yard? Is it going to land on a power line? There are a lot of things to consider as you’re out flying your UAS. Again, these are things that you don’t have to overly worry about, but most certainly should be thinking about as you fly your unmanned aerospace system.

So, let’s do a little bit of a recap. We’ve talked about a lot of

So, let’s do a little bit of a recap. We’ve talked about a lot of things today, but we’ve covered some UAS basics.

We’ve looked at UAS categories, or classes.

The types of UAS flight profiles from the standpoint of UAS being out and about.

How are you going to control them? How will they be able to launch and recover? What occurs with the UAS in flight from the standpoint of autonomy?

And, also, we’ve taken a look at visual line of sight and communications line of sight and the importance of not mixing the two of those up and understanding that visual line of sight is your primary concern when it comes to avoiding other aircraft within the airspace.

So, with module one recapped, there are some tasks that can be done. First of

So, with module one recapped, there are some tasks that can be done. First of all, review the assigned readings and videos that are in the module that relate to what I’ve talked about here today.

Then, respond to the discussion board posting. Take a look at the research question that’s being presented and formulate an answer that not only makes sense to post, but makes sense to you to help you with safe flight of your UAS.

And, then, take the module one quiz.

Now, if desired, if you want to dig in deeper or if you’re a professional pilot, private pilot, or whatever the case may be, you can go ahead and review the advanced concepts readings and videos.

But, regardless of your background, feel free to chime in to the student lounge area and comment on different postings or ask questions, because you’ll find that within this group of thousands of students enrolled in this MOOC, there are some experts out there amongst your fellow students.

And don’t be afraid to send in a question via the “Ask the experts” link.

Now, next week – Module Two – we’re going to take a look at the

Now, next week – Module Two – we’re going to take a look at the National Airspace System, how it works, the classes of airspace, things such as “Notice to Airmen” (or NOTAMs), and we’ll also look at mission planning and online planning software to help you fly safer.

We’re going to cover some of the “dos and don’ts” of UAS operations in the NAS and, for those of you that are looking to go a little bit further into UAS as in commercial or public users that are non- recreational, we’ll take a look real quick at the 333 exemption and the COA process and give you a feel for how that works and where to go to get help in those areas.

Now, don’t forget, if you have any questions you can go to the “Ask the

Now, don’t forget, if you have any questions you can go to the “Ask the expert” link within each module and you’ll be able to email in a question to one of the many support faculty members here at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide College of Aeronautics that are standing by to answer your questions. We’ll go ahead and review those daily. We’ll take a look at the most frequently asked questions, and we’ll formulate and post answers to those in a forum online.

And, for now, that concludes Module One. I look forward to working with you this week, and look forward to seeing you again in Module Two