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Conducting Unmanned Aircraft Flight Operations Under Federal Aviation Administration Regulations

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting  152147654.(doi:10.13031/aim.20152147654)
Authors:   Wayne E. Woldt, Eric W. Frew, Maciej Stachura, Jacob Smith, James Mack
Keywords:   Aircraft, Precision Agriculture, Aerial, Regulations, Rules


The conduct of research using unmanned aircraft systems represents tremendous opportunity, and at the same time challenges, in terms of complying with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. This paper documents research and practice on procedures, expectations, and protocols for conducting flight operations within the context of an FAA issued Certificate of Authorization or Waiver (COA). The material is based on two years of successful flight operations with a single engine fixed wing unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Current research is focused on aeronautical performance measures to document UAS capability in an agricultural setting. This involves flights to define the capability of an unmanned aircraft to place pixels on target. All research flights comply with COA requirements and protocols, which are described and summarized in this paper. The opening of the National Air Space to unmanned aircraft systems will have significant implications for the agricultural sector. UAS will offer a tremendous opportunity to place crop and soil sensors, robotics, and advanced information systems at more timely and desired locations for increasing production and improving efficiency of agricultural operations. The ability to conduct research for the advancement of unmanned aircraft is possible under FAA regulations, and is described in this document.

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