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July 16, 2020
NAAA Ensures UAS Standards Roadmap Addresses Safety for Agricultural Aircraft

On June 30, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) published the second version of the Standardization Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The roadmap was the work of ANSI’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Standardization Collaborative (UASSC), a group formed to coordinate the development of standards needed to facilitate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace. UASSC included over 400 individuals from 250 public and private organizations including the FAA, other federal agencies, industry and academia. The UASSC was not tasked with developing standards itself, but rather help identify standards that need to be developed by standard developing organizations such as the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, which also develops standards related to aerial applications.


The overall goal of creating the Standardization Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems was to identify all existing standards related to UAS, standards currently in development, standards that need to be developed, and research needed in order to create the necessary standards. The roadmap also briefly covered current UAS activities from some of the participating organizations. The overall goal of the UASSC roadmap is to support UAS growth with an emphasis on safety.


As part of UASSC, NAAA ensured that standards and research related to the safety risks UAS present to agricultural aircraft and other low-level aircraft were identified and included in the roadmap. These included standards dealing with detect and avoid (DAA) systems, geo-fencing, UAS conducting power line inspections, UAS remote identification and airworthiness.


NAAA also played a major role in the section of the roadmap dealing with using UAS to perform aerial applications. NAAA made sure the roadmap pointed out that tank capacity and field size play an important role in determining the feasibility of UAS for applications in the U.S. NAAA also included the study conducted in 2015 by the Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association in conjunction with the Think Before You Launch (TBYL) safety coalition that proved agricultural aviators cannot see UAS, and another study published in Transactions of the ASABE, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), which looked at pesticide drift from UAS. This study concluded that the current AgDRIFT model used by the EPA to evaluate the risk of drift from aerial applications cannot handle modeling UAS by itself; an additional model is needed to deal with the multiple vortices created by multi-rotor UAS. The authors also found that when UAS exceed critical speed (14.5–17.8 mph) the risk of drift is considerable.


NAAA will continue to monitor future standard developments related to UAS to ensure safety to the agricultural aviation industry.

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This newsletter is intended for NAAA members only. NAAA requests that should any party desire to publish, distribute or quote any part of this newsletter that they first seek the permission of the Association. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership. Items in this newsletter are not the result of paid advertising and are only meant to highlight newsworthy developments. No endorsement by NAAA is intended or implied.
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