Obstacles remain to integrating the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace (NAS) although some progress has been made the past few years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says in a new report.
Continued challenges for UAS include developing adequate sense and avoid capabilities so that they don’t interfere with other aircraft in the NAS, says the report, Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Measuring Progress and Addressing Potential Privacy Concerns Would Facilitate Integration into the National Airspace System (GAO-12-981), which was issued on Friday.
The report says that there are ongoing research and development efforts at the Defense Department, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and others that show that potential solutions for sense and avoid capabilities may be available in the near-terms.
Other obstacles to the successful integration of UAS into the NAS include vulnerabilities in the command and control of the aircraft operations, a lack of technical standards related to the safe operation of the aircraft, limited engineering of man-in-the-loop factors incorporated into UAS technologies, and the final regulations necessary to quickly enable UAS to fly in the NAS, says the report.
The potential remains for GPS signals that are transmitted to a UAS to be spoofed, which “could also interrupt the command and control of UAS operations,” says the report. “According to one industry expert, GPS jamming would become a larger problem if GPS is the only method for navigating a UAS.
The report notes that having a non-GPS reliant navigation system on board a small UAS could mitigate the command and control issue and adds that larger UAS that are operated by DoD and the Department of Homeland Security are not reliant on GPS for navigation.