drone pilot industryNUAIR selected for BVLOS aviation-rulemaking committee

July 29, 2021by helo-10

Tests drone parachute-recovery system at Griffiss

The Horsefly-manufactured drone landed safely with a parachute-recovery system from the Canadian firm Aerial Vehicle Safety Solutions Inc. (AVSS) during NUAIR testing at the drone test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome.

ROME — NUAIR is participating in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) aviation-rulemaking committee. 

The FAA selected NUAIR for the committee in late June.

In addition, NUAIR says it put a drone parachute-recovery system (PRS) through safety and failure scenarios over multiple days in late spring at the New York UAS test site in Rome. UAS is short for unmanned-aircraft system. A UAS includes a drone and equipment used to control its flight. A drone is also referred to in the industry as an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV.

Syracuse–based NUAIR is short for the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance. The nonprofit focuses on UAS operations, aeronautical research, safety management, and consulting services. 

FAA BVLOS committee

NUAIR supports the BVLOS aviation rulemaking committee, focused on the development of performance-based regulatory requirements to normalize safe, scalable, economically viable, and “environmentally advantageous” unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) BVLOS operations. 

NUAIR CEO Ken Stewart will represent NUAIR on the committee.

NUAIR continues to work with the FAA, NASA, and industry members on “key projects that pave the way for future aviation and the overall safe integration” of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system. In 2020, FAA selected NUAIR and the New York UAS test site to conduct high-density UAS operations in an urban environment, as part of the FAA’s UAS traffic-management pilot program.


“The ability to safely fly beyond visual line of sight is what will truly unlock the full potential of UAS, making commercial drone operations both scalable and economically viable,” Ken Stewart, CEO of NUAIR, said in a release. “We’ve been working directly with the FAA for many years, completing meaningful projects together and we are pleased to be selected to sit on this very important rulemaking committee.”

The FAA’s BVLOS committee launched in the third week of June and plans to submit a recommendation report within six months, NUAIR said.

Drone parachute recovery system

The drone parachute-recovery system is a product of Aerial Vehicle Safety Solutions Inc. (AVSS), a company based in Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada.

The tests were successful on the Horsefly drone, which is produced by Workhorse (NASDAQ: WKHS), a Loveland, Ohio–based technology company. The tests prove the AVSS parachute recovery system complies with ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) International parachute standard F3322-18, allowing Workhorse to expedite its durability and reliability testing requirements, NUAIR said. It also allows commercial-drone pilots utilizing this platform combination to fly over people “legally and safely.” 

NUAIR has now conducted five parachute-standard validations since the standard was published in 2018, the nonprofit noted. 

Testing for drone safety

Drone-safety standards “continue to be developed to keep skies safe, much like how safety standards for cars and trucks keep roads safe,” NUAIR said. Before a car manufacturer can put its vehicles on the road, it must have the components tested by a third party to confirm or validate that the product complies with current standards. The process is similar for drones, with NUAIR acting as the third-party validation service, it noted.

The AVSS parachute-recovery system is a safety product for drones. In the event of a drone malfunction in the air, the system will automatically cut power to the drone, deploy a parachute, and allow the aircraft to descend slowly from the sky. This safety system “significantly decreases the potential of harm” to people or property on the ground and reduces the risk of damage to the drone itself, the organization explained.

“The AVSS drone parachute tests conducted at Oneida County’s UAS test site at Griffiss are vital to ensuring safe commercial drone operations,” Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. said “Our test site continues to lead the way in drone development, and these latest standard validations will advance the entire industry to new heights. With our partners at NUAIR, Oneida County is flourishing as a world-renowned hub for UAS innovation.”

NUAIR says it has now conducted three successful validations for AVSS, including the first one in 2020. Drones come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so the parachute validation is “tied specifically” to the type of drone that was used during testing. 

The FAA prohibits most drones from flying over people. New FAA rules have made the process to legally fly over people “easier,” including one that removes the need to apply for a waiver to fly over people if drone pilots can show they have safety mitigations in place that meet an FAA-approved method of compliance (MOC). The MOC is still being finalized, which includes the parameters of having a validated parachute-recovery system.

“It was great working with AVSS again and I’m happy we were able to successfully validate their product to two more platforms,” Tony Basile, COO of NUAIR, said in the release. “Our crew at the New York UAS Test Site has these validation tests down pat, making the whole process effortless and cost effective for our clients.”

The validation of AVSS’s PRS product on the Horsefly allows Workhorse and its partner United Parcel Service (UPS) to “advance the reality of economically viable, routine package delivery via drones.” The Horsefly, a custom-built, U.S.–made drone designed for safety and efficiency, can fly autonomously, and can undergo the rigors of day-to-day deliveries. Workhorse has developed electric delivery trucks that pair with the Horsefly, providing a take-off and landing pad on the roof with charging capabilities and a control center for the driver to program the drone’s delivery route.      

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