Integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the National Airspace System

This article explores the steps that need to be taken in order to integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS). The authors first consider the issue of whether or not the unmanned aircraft systems community is open and receptive to recommendations regarding safety. The authors report on an incident from 2006, when a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) MQ-9 Predator B crashed. The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the accident; the board’s final report included a number of recommendations for improving operations of UASs in the NAS. The authors outline the actions taken by the CBP and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporated (GA-ASI) in response to the NTSB’s Safety Recommendations following the investigation of the crash. The authors contend that the extent to which the NTSB’s recommendations were incorporated will provide insight into the feasibility of incorporating unmanned aircraft systems into the NAS. The authors conducted a mixed method survey using an internet based distribution and return; of the estimated population of just under 100 possible participants, 39 surveys were used for the analysis (43 respondents but 4 were rejected for incompleteness). Some of the results showed an age range of 39 to 59 years; predominantly white male pilots and sensor operators; Federal Aviation Administration certificated pilots 41.0%, Commercial pilots 43.6%, Air Transport pilots 51.3%, flight instructors 30.8%; and 74.4% with instrument ratings. Nearly half (41%) of the respondents with a pilot certificate had acquired their certificate through military experience. A majority (88%) of the respondents agreed that the UAS community was receptive to NTSB safety recommendations. The authors also discussed factors such as the recording of conversations (to support accident investigations), human factors (notably in operator control interfaces and Ground Control System layouts), the cause and resolution of console lockups, pilot training programs, and the development of safety programs (not necessarily NTSB Safety Recommendations).

  • Availability:
  • Authors:
    • Concannon, Robert
    • Worrells, D Scott
  • Publication Date: 2013


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 58-78
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01531923
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 26 2014 6:58PM