Defining Handling Qualities of Unmanned Aerial Systems

Period of Performance: 06/10/2016 - 12/09/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Systems Technology, Inc.
13766 Hawthorne Blvd. Array
Hawthorne, CA 90250
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) are here to stay and operators are demanding access to the National Airspace System (NAS) for a wide variety of missions. This includes a proliferation of small UAS that will operate beyond line of sight at altitudes of 500 feet and below. A myriad of issues continues to slow the development of verification, validation, and certification methods that will enable the safe introduction of UAS to the NAS. These issues include the lack of both a consensus UAS categorization process and quantitative certification requirements including the definition of UAS handling qualities. Because of a lack of quantitative data, attempts to address core problems thus far have failed to achieve consensus support. Currently the UAS arena includes traditional airframers, established UAS manufacturers, academic institutions, and many newcomers such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook that see UAS as a means to other commercial ends. The program described herein does not propose to address the entire verification, validation, and certification problem, but instead to address the important need to define UAS handling qualities in both remotely piloted and autonomous operations with an end product being the UAS Handling Qualities Assessment Software System, a toolbox that will guide UAS stakeholders through a systematic evaluation process. The process begins with classification. Because of the wide variety of vehicle types and size there cannot be a one-size-fits-all set of requirements. Given an appropriate classification, missions are next considered wherein they are broken down into specific task elements. These mission task elements are then used to identify specific criteria that predict handling qualities analytically and test demonstration maneuvers that verify handling qualities in flight. Feasibility of this process will be demonstrated in Phase I with existing physics-based UAS analytical models and flight test data.