Unmanned Aircraft Defined

Interestingly, the Chicago Convention, which is considered to be the magna carta of civil aircraft, never actually defines the word “aircraft”. In 1967, in response to advancements in technology, ICAO re-defined “aircraft” as “any machine that can drive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the are other than the reactions of the are against the Earth’s surface,” This change in the definition of “aircraft” came primarily as a response to the invention of “hovercraft”. A hovercraft is a machine that elevates itself off of the ground by pushing in downward to lift the vehicle off of the ground. Because a hovercraft creates lift by pushing air onto the ground it is not capable of “flying” more than a few inches in the air. 

The need for ICAO to redefine one of its most fundamental words, “aircraft” due to development of previously unforeseen technology, the hovercraft, is a perfect example of how quickly technology can change and how it can make prior norms outdated.

Unmanned Aircraft are Aircraft-

Determining what is, and is not, an “aircraft” is so important because it determines whether it falls under the purview of ICAO. If it does, then it is held to the same standard as traditional manned aircraft and must comply with all of the same requirements. 

Upon initial review, defining “unmanned aircraft” seems to be intuitive and somewhat self-explanatory. However, with close examination and careful thought what is and is not “unmanned” becomes less clear. For example, what if there is not a pilot in the aircraft but the aircraft is being flown by a person standing on the ground, using a remote control? Or must an “unmanned” aircraft be one that is flown completely autonomously without any human input? 

The plain wording of Article 8 makes clear that the drafters intended “pilotless aircraft” to include aircraft that were remotely controlled, e.g., from the ground (via radio signals); thus, “pilotless aircraft” in the sense that Article 8 refers to an aircraft flown without a “pilot” of Article 32, which provides, “the pilot of every aircraft and the other members of the operating crew of every aircraft engaged in international navigation shall be provided with certificates of competency and licenses issued or rendered valid by the state in which the aircraft is registered”.

Defining “pilotless” is of great importance because, “no aircraft capable of being flown without a pilot shall be flown without a pilot over the territory of a Contracting State without special authorization by that state and in accordance with the terms of such authorization. Each contracting State undertakes to ensure that the flight of such aircraft without a pilot shall be so controlled as to obviate danger to the Civil aircraft.” 

The term “without a pilot” was later clarified to mean that an “aircraft which is intended to be operated with no pilot on board shall be further classified as unmanned,” Furthermore, “unmanned aircraft shall include remotely-piloted aircraft.” 

An aircraft is not required to be fully autonomous in order to be unmanned. An aircraft that is controlled by a person is still “unmanned”, so long as the person controlling the aircraft is not located within the aircraft. For example, a quad-copter- drone that is controlled remotely by a person on the ground is still an unmanned aircraft. RPA as “an unmanned aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station”.

All unmanned aircraft, whether remotely piloted, fully autonomous or combinations thereof, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 and inter alia the ICAO. Annex 7 makes it clear that remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), are simply one type of unmanned aircraft, and all unmanned pilotless aircraft, whether remotely-piloted, fully autonomous, or combinations thereof, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 of the Chicago convention. Because RPAS are aircraft, ICAO is responsible for their international air travel. They are held to the ICAO standards.

If you stay up at night and pontificate about the differences between manned and unmanned aircraft then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 623-252-6884 or message us HERE.

Services Provided: Utility Companies

We Provided Services to Utility Companies

BENEFITS TO DRONE PROGRAM

With far-flung facilities, often in settings with rough terrain and other difficult conditions, companies in the energy and utility industries face serious challenges as they inspect, monitor and maintain their assets. As unmanned aircraft systems (UASs, or drones) have become more sophisticated and reliable, they have emerged to offer valuable capabilities that can help energy and utility companies.

By taking dangerous tasks out of the hands of humans, drones can greatly improve safety. Further, capabilities such as powerful cameras and other sensors enable drones to do many jobs more quickly, accurately and efficiently than human workers.

Here’s how energy companies and utilities are benefiting from drone technology.

Improve the Safety of Inspections by Avoiding Dangerous Conditions

Utility workers often face hazards when conducting inspections, including heights, proximity to high voltage and inclement weather. Some assets, such as wind turbines, are particularly dangerous for human inspectors. “The utilization of drones helps keep workers away from private property, aggressive dogs, volatile homeowners or areas that are not adequately maintained,” the online energy marketplace provider Choose Energy notes in a recent article about UAS technology.

DJI, a manufacturer of UAS systems, says its drones can take high-resolution images and shoot 4K video, which helps inspectors spot areas that may need to be repaired, such as cracks or fissures. Further, some of the company’s drones come with advanced sense and avoid technologies, which can prevent collisions in situations with sudden gusts of wind or pilot error.

Rev Up Operations with Speedy Drones

Because drones can quickly make their way from place to place through the air, they can dramatically speed up inspection and monitoring tasks. “Drones are 97 percent more efficient than manual inspections for solar farms,” Carmen Smith, vice president of marketing at the aerial intelligence company Measure, tells Choose Energy. They avoid having workers trek across many acres of solar panels or climb onto roofs, and they complete a detailed inspection of 100 percent of panels in a fraction of the time.

Reduce Labor Costs by Boosting Efficiency

Because human workers take so much longer than drones to complete inspection and monitoring work, the use of unmanned systems can help to cut down the labor costs associated with these tasks. For example, a 2018 article in Drone Examiner notes that a drone can replace the need for staffers who would otherwise have to walk around oil and gas wells with infrared cameras in search of leaks.

Drone manufacturer Yuneec says its drones are capable of inspecting more than 4,000 photo-voltaic panels per hour. By comparison, the average for inspection conducted by a human is roughly 60 panels per hour — meaning a person would take about eight days to complete a task that a drone can do in an hour.

Survey Potential Sites

According to Drone Examiner, an Oregon utility is using drones to survey potential locations for new solar energy infrastructure. The drones map the area’s topography and use algorithms to find the best place for each solar panel. The process takes 90 percent less time than traditional surveying and design.

What is Aircraft

WHAT ARE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT?

Aircraft Defined- 

Interestingly, the Chicago Convention, which is considered to be the magna carta of civil aircraft, never actually defines the word “aircraft”. In 1967, in response to advancements in technology, ICAO re-defined “aircraft” as “any machine that can drive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the are other than the reactions of the are against the Earth’s surface,” This change in the definition of “aircraft” came primarily as a response to the invention of “hovercraft”. A hovercraft is a machine that elevates itself off of the ground by pushing in downward to lift the vehicle off of the ground. Because a hovercraft creates lift by pushing air onto the ground it is not capable of “flying” more than a few inches in the air. 

The need for ICAO to redefine one of its most fundamental words, “aircraft” due to development of previously unforeseen technology, the hovercraft, is a perfect example of how quickly technology can change and how it can make prior norms outdated. 

Unmanned Aircraft are Aircraft-

Determining what is, and is not, “aircraft” is important because it determines whether it falls under the purview of ICAO. If an aircraft does, then it is held to the same standard as traditional manned aircraft and must comply with all of the same requirements. 

Upon initial review, defining “unmanned aircraft” seems to be intuitive and somewhat self-explanatory. However, with close examination and careful thought what is and is not “unmanned” becomes less clear. For example, what if there is not a pilot in the aircraft but the aircraft is being flown by a person standing on the ground, using a remote control? Or must an “unmanned” aircraft be one that is flown completely autonomously without any human input? 

The plain wording of Article 8 in the Chicago Convention makes clear that the drafters intended “pilotless aircraft” to include aircraft that were remotely controlled, e.g., from the ground (via radio signals); thus, “pilotless aircraft” in the sense that Article 8 refers to an aircraft flown without a “pilot” of Article 32, which provides, “the pilot of every aircraft and the other members of the operating crew of every aircraft engaged in international navigation shall be provided with certificates of competency and licenses issued or rendered valid by the state in which the aircraft is registered”.

Defining “pilotless” is of great importance because, “no aircraft capable of being flown without a pilot shall be flown without a pilot over the territory of a Contracting State without special authorization by that state and in accordance with the terms of such authorization. Each contracting State undertakes to ensure that the flight of such aircraft without a pilot shall be so controlled as to obviate danger to the Civil aircraft.” 

The term “without a pilot” was later clarified to mean that an “aircraft which is intended to be operated with no pilot on board shall be further classified as unmanned,” Furthermore, “unmanned aircraft shall include remotely-piloted aircraft.” 

An aircraft is not required to be fully autonomous in order to be unmanned. An aircraft that is controlled by a person is still “unmanned”, so long as the person controlling the aircraft is not located within the aircraft. For example, a quad-copter- drone that is controlled remotely by a person on the ground is still an unmanned aircraft. RPA as “an unmanned aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station”. All unmanned aircraft, whether remotely piloted, fully autonomous or combinations thereof, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 and inter alia the ICAO. Annex 7 of the Chicago Convention, makes it clear that remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), are simply one type of unmanned aircraft, and all unmanned pilotless aircraft, whether remotely-piloted, fully autonomous, or combinations thereof, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 of the Chicago convention. Because RPAS are aircraft, ICAO is responsible for their international air travel. They are held to the ICAO standards.

If your organization is looking to maximize its UAS program then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 623-252-6884 or message us HERE.