FAA Moves Forward with UTM Testing, Focuses on Remote ID for Operations in High-Density Areas


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As the drone world hustles to leverage drones in the COVID-19 fight, the FAA has quietly been pushing its UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) testing forward.

Most recently, the FAA announced two new partners in its UTM Pilot Program (UPP). The Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership in Blacksburg, VA and Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY have both been selected as test site participants for Phase 2 of the FAA’s UTM testing.

Why should you care?

Because UTM is crucial to integrating drones into the national airspace. If successfully implemented, UTM will represent a huge step forward for the drone industry by helping to open up operations currently prohibited by the FAA’s Part 107 rules.

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Read today's article for a rundown of all the UTM testing NASA has already completed and a look at what Phase 2 of the FAA's UTM testing cover. 

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I have problems with statements and articles that ascribe false reasons for UTM.  Right now as I write this, drones are already integrated into the national air space.  This is accomplished by confining them with current regulations to areas that are not populated to a great extent by manned aircraft.  UTM is not about drones and aircraft.  It is about my drone and UPS's drone in the regulated and relegated airspace that UPS wants for themselves.  That is only a problem when they don't want to keep an eye on their drone like I'm doing with my drone.  Hence...THEY are the problem, not me.  They should absorb ALL the costs of the integration within that air space with no preference shown just because they are willing to pay fees to the government.  Put them in the 100 feet between my drone and the manned aircraft operating altitude.  WHAT, that's not safe?!!  Well wait until drones or cargoes start falling out of the sky from mid-air collisions that are bound to happen from BVLOS operations.  Especially with the tethered cargoes hanging down from drones that are not in view of a pilot.  How many telephone wires, electric lines and small branches are hit every day by drones flying within sight now?

Let me take a few minutes to climb down of this high-horse and you all be safe out there.

bf

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On 4/30/2020 at 1:54 PM, Zacc Dukowitz said:

Why should you care?

Because UTM is crucial to integrating drones into the national airspace. If successfully implemented, UTM will represent a huge step forward for the drone industry by helping to open up operations currently prohibited by the FAA’s Part 107 rules.

Zacc, please back up your statement (quoted) with reasoning related to "typical" small drone operators.  Unless you are just parroting Big Drone's line in which case I hope they are paying you well.

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To all the recreational flyers out there,

This effort by the FAA to have all drones identified while flying reminds me of "register your gun" laws that have been creeping forward year after year.  They go after the gun and settle for the size of the magazine this year, and next year they come back for the gun again.  "They" never quit.  

It is the right to fly in your back yard that they will eventually go after.  They want to make deliveries to your back yard.  Tell me how they can do that and stay under 400 feet without flying over all your neighbors back yards.  If they fly down the street and over the top of the house to the back yard, they will have to violate flying over moving cars.  This BVLOS business is rampant with unsafe flying and the potential for drones and cargoes falling out of the air.

Knowing my drone is in the air won't get me out of the way.  That will only happen when I am not allowed to fly.  

The proposed Remote I.D. rules are the blueprint for getting rid of club fields.  It is the creeping rule that doesn't allow for the start up of new fields or the replacement of fields that get closed for whatever reason.

"They" are a patient master.

Be well and stay safe,

bf

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Posted (edited)
On 5/2/2020 at 4:39 PM, Dave Pitman said:

Zacc, please back up your statement (quoted) with reasoning related to "typical" small drone operators.  Unless you are just parroting Big Drone's line in which case I hope they are paying you well.

Great point, David. If UTM requires Remote ID as it was laid out in the NPRM then small drone operators (not to mention hobbyists) will get the short end of the stick and I certainly don't want to see that. (Not sure if you saw this piece we wrote about why we were worried about the NPRM.) 

I realize that I didn't include the small drone operator's perspective here (and that the "you" who I say should care in the piece may be a little too generic) and I'll do better about that in my reporting going forward.

Sometimes reporting can seem like parroting—I'm often receiving lots of information quickly, and trying to synthesize it and turn it into a thoughtful article while balancing the urgency of deadlines and due dates. I'll try to do better going forward.

 

Edited by Zacc Dukowitz
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Hi Zaac, thanks for your response. 

With the RID NPRM, it is clear that the FAA is hoping to incorporate their vision of a UTM as soon as possible.  Their NSA-PRISM template is a little over the top of what is required for safety and accountability for sure, but not surprising that they are trying, right?  I'm glad that you agree this template is too much.

When "big drone" gets approval and rolls out BVLOS operation at scale, they are going to have a UTM (operational tracking) scheme to go along with it.  They have to from an operational point of view just like they have hardware and human personnel. It's not an option.  If the FAA wants to (if they haven't all ready), they could get the prospective players in this space to agree on a standard for this UTM. Or, at least the portion that connects with and reports to the FAA.  "Small drone" does not need to be involved or pay for this system.  It's a very similar situation to manned aviation.  For decades, "big air" has lobbied to have general aviation pay airspace fees in addition to aviation fuel tax in order to help subsidize their operation. Remember, it would be much better for "big drone" if "small drone" ceases to exist.

General aviation has the AOPA to try and resist "big air" but  "Small drone" has a pretty small voice as of now.  That is why I was sensitive to the quoted comment.  I appreciate your willingness to reflect on it a little bit.  "We" certainly need all the help we can get and journalists that cover the latest uas topics are the front lines.

Thanks again!

 

Edited by Dave Pitman
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1 hour ago, Dave Pitman said:

Hi Zaac, thanks for your response. 

With the RID NPRM, it is clear that the FAA is hoping to incorporate their vision of a UTM as soon as possible.  Their NSA-PRISM template is a little over the top of what is required for safety and accountability for sure, but not surprising that they are trying, right?  I'm glad that you agree this template is too much.

When "big drone" gets approval and rolls out BVLOS operation at scale, they are going to have a UTM (operational tracking) scheme to go along with it.  They have to from an operational point of view just like they have hardware and human personnel. It's not an option.  If the FAA wants to (if they haven't all ready), they could get the prospective players in this space to agree on a standard for this UTM. Or, at least the portion that connects with and reports to the FAA.  "Small drone" does not need to be involved or pay for this system.  It's a very similar situation to manned aviation.  For decades, "big air" has lobbied to have general aviation pay airspace fees in addition to aviation fuel tax in order to help subsidize their operation. Remember, it would be much better for "big drone" if "small drone" ceases to exist.

General aviation has the AOPA to try and resist "big air" but  "Small drone" has a pretty small voice as of now.  That is why I was sensitive to the quoted comment.  I appreciate your willingness to reflect on it a little bit.  "We" certainly need all the help we can get and journalists that cover the latest uas topics are the front lines.

Thanks again!

 

Really appreciate the reply David and your further insights here.

Your original note and this follow up have spurred some good reflection on my part. I need to do a better job reflecting the small operator's perspective and experience (it's too easy to just 'report' and leave out those who are least represented), especially since, as you say, they're not represented in the dialogue (the AMA has a fairly loud voice, but they're not talking for solopreneurs).

We can help broaden the dialogue here, and we want to—I may reach out to you for your opinion in the future if that's ok.

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