Quantitative Model to Support Automated Approval Processes of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations
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Quantitative Model to Support Automated Approval Processes of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations

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    • Edition:
      Final report, August 2018
    • NTL Classification:
      NTL-AVIATION-AVIATION ; NTL-AVIATION-Airports and Facilities ; NTL-AVIATION-Aviation Safety/Airworthiness ;
    • Abstract:
      Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) are operating in the National Airspace (NAS) in increasing numbers. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 Rule allows sUAS to fly at low altitude, in controlled airspace, near airports; and more than 20,000 requests for authorizations have been made over the first year of the rule. FAA typically review each request manually, approving within 60 days of request date. The approval time period has served as a safety buffer, but many sUAS operations are more time-sensitive.

      FAA has developed facility maps (UASFMs) to depict airspaces around many airports. The Volpe Center has developed a quantitative model to support automated approval processes by examining the altitude of manned aircraft in UASFMs. This report describes assumptions and methods of the model, altitude results for Class B airspaces, and repeatability and scalability to all airspaces around airports. The model provides a quantifiable, consistent, and repeatable method to examine altitudes of manned aircraft. The results can complement Air Traffic Control and subject matter expert assessment of airspaces to inform future periodic revisions of UASFMs. The model can be improved upon in future work, and its methods can be incorporated into the overall UASFM analysis process.

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