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An Exploratory Evaluation of UAS Detect and Avoid Operations in the Terminal Environment  (2018)
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New technical standards for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) detect and avoid (DAA) systems mark recent progress toward realizing the goal of full integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS). The DAA system is intended to provide a means of compliance with operating regulations that required pilots on board manned aircraft to remain "well clear" of other aircraft which is accomplished through out-the-window visual acquisition of other aircraft and application of a subjective judgment of safe separation. The requirements for the DAA system, including the specification of a DAA well clear threshold as well as functional requirements for detecting, tracking, alerting and guidance processing, and displays, are specified in DO-365, Minimum Operational Performance Standards (MOPS) for DAA Systems developed within RTCA Special Committee 228 (SC-228). Intended as the first in a series of phased versions, these requirements are frequently referred to as the "Phase 1" DAA system. The Phase 1 DAA system is limited for use by aircraft transitioning to and from Class A or special use airspace, through Class D, E, and G airspace. In particular, the Phase 1 DAA MOPS are not intended for terminal airspace operations, a critical gap for enabling a full range of UAS operations. The application of the Phase 1 DAA system and DAA well clear threshold within the terminal area is predicted to result in a high number of unnecessary alerts when the UAS is safely separated from other traffic. The goal of the present study was to examine pilot performance and operational issues related to the operation of the Phase 1 DAA system in a terminal area. This experiment was intended as an exploratory study that would be used to inform the development of a new terminal area-specific DAA well clear definition, and associated alerting and guidance requirements. The two main objectives of this study were to: 1) characterize pilot behavior in the terminal environment with the Phase 1 DAA system, and 2) investigate the effect of modifications to the Phase 1 DAA alerting and guidance structure. In particular, the authors were interested in determining whether the removal of specific alerting and guidance levels, without changing the DAA well clear definition or alerting thresholds, would impact pilot performance while conducting terminal operations. The results indicate that the Phase 1 well clear definition and alerting and guidance resulted in frequent alerting that degraded pilots’ ability to discriminate between encounters where another aircraft was safely separated versus when a maneuver was necessary. The resulting impact on pilot performance was slower response times and higher frequency and severity of losses of DAA well clear compared to those observed for experiments examining pilot performance in the en route environment. There was no significant effect of alerting and guidance display configuration on pilot performance.
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Aircraft, Airspace, and, Avoid, DAA, Detect, Environment, Evaluation, Exploratory, NAS, National, Operations, System, Systems, Terminal, UAS, Unmanned
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2018 Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations Conference (p. 2874). Atlanta, GA.
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Adobe PDF Icon  TOPS_AIAA_Paper.pdf (Download Acrobat Reader Click to download Adobe Acrabat Reader)
  (823KB) (application/pdf)
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Alonso Vera
Last Updated: August 15, 2019