GeoMonday 2015.3 – Chances & challenges of unmanned aviation

The drone industry is diverse, innovative and international. It has an enormous potential for growth with the associated possibility to create jobs.  Today there is a fast-developing community that uses Unmanned Systems in general or RPAS in specific, for multiple applications. Some examples are: precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection, wind energy monitoring, pipeline and power inspection, highway monitoring, natural resources monitoring, environmental compliance checking, atmospheric research, media and entertainment, sporting event photography, filming, wildlife protection and research, hunting and anti-hunting monitoring and disaster relief (EASA CONOPS, 2015).In EASA countries there are 2495 operators and 114 RPAS manufacturers. They produce and operate RPAS from very small to medium sizes with a maximum take-off mass (MTOM) below 150kg (EASA CONOPS, 2015).
Worldwide there are different levels of freedom for UAS/RPAS, ranging from complete prohibition to full integration in low-airspace beyond-visual-line-of-sight.

Due to recent reports about different events, the topic of civil use and misuse of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is gaining attention. Other terms are „RPAS” – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems or plainly “drones”.Especially small UAS (sUAS) are easy to obtain (self-made or purchase), easy to operate and very mobile (vehicle and remote control are portable). sUAS can be fixed-wing, quad-or multicopter, propelled by electric or piston engine and piloted remotely or automatically.Furthermore sUAS are difficult to detect and counteract. Performance and payload capabilities of modern sUAS are raising the question of a possible misuse.
Current and present examples are various, from the disruption of international soccer games, secret observation of French nuclear power plants, smuggling of contraband into prisons to the increasing use of UAS for espionage and intrusion of privacy.
Possible threat scenarios show even more hazardous possibilities of unlawful interference through crime and terrorism. Equipped with a respective payload sUAS can travel the appropriate distance to enter secured areas or perimeters. In this domain of Safety and Security considerations, it is necessary to focus on feasible detection methods against misuse or adversary UAS.

Christian Janke is currently a Research Engineer at the European Aviation Security unnamedCenter
 (EASC) in Germany. His R&D focus is on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, technology impact assessment in context of legal frameworks and stakeholders. He is currently promoting Unmanned Aviation, like UAV DACH and UVS International in close cooperation with national and international associations. Aim of this engagement is facilitating broad civilian UAS applications by addressing questions like weight classes, visibility minima or insurance context.