New UAS Course Teaches Range Flight Safety Aspects of Use

New UAS Course Teaches Range Flight Safety Aspects of Use

3-minute read

NASA’s Range Flight Safety program recently released “UAS Range Flight Safety” (SMA-AS-WBT-300) to address the Range Flight Safety aspects of flying Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) at NASA.

“The need for the course was prompted by the prominence of UAS use across the agency,” explained Brenda Wall, range safety engineer with APT at Kennedy Space Center. “Almost every NASA center is flying UAS currently, at least small UAS. Everyone has been leveraging the bleeding edge of the available technology and it’s expanding by leaps and bounds. That’s the challenge, to keep the policies and training in step with the advance in technology.”

UAS use is primarily thought of as an aviation activity, but there are Range Flight Safety aspects that must be taken into consideration to ensure safe flight operations.

“Because UAS are classified as aircraft under the NPRs [NASA Procedural Requirements] and under the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], everybody thinks of aircraft operations and Aviation Safety, but don’t think to pursue it further,” said Wall “Especially if they are a project or program that doesn’t have any dealings with Range Flight Safety, it can be a sort of hidden aspect.”

Recent revisions to Aviation Safety and Range Flight Safety policies point to each other to help raise the awareness of the intermingled nature of flying UAS, and this new course will help further detail the Range Flight Safety side outlined in NPR 8715.5, Range Flight Safety Program and NASA-STD-8719.25, Range Flight Safety Requirements. “Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Range Flight Safety” complements the existing NASA Safety Center course “Introduction to Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)” (SMA-HQ-WBT-213), which focuses on the Aviation Safety aspects of flying these systems.

The course provides a fundamental understanding of the roles, responsibilities and requirements essential to performing NASA UAS operations, as they relate to Range Flight Safety. It defines and discusses the major elements of Range Flight Safety (policy and requirements, flight safety analysis, flight termination systems, and range flight operations) for NASA UAS and focuses on requirements and real-time support including preflight, flight, recovery/landing and post-flight operations. The course also addresses the paths available to NASA to authorize UAS flights in special use airspace and the National Airspace System, including FAA 14 CFR Part 107, UAS Operations.UAS Course Chart

“The course talks very strongly to the ways in which NASA can fly UAS — the different avenues it’s legally permitted to fly,” said Wall. “That’s the big takeaway. There are four different ways you can fly and they each have their own requirements and prohibitions. That’s the fundamental question people ask: ‘I have a UAS and I want to do something with it under the auspices of NASA. How do I do it?’ This course will address the ways you can fly and stress the Range Flight Safety aspect.”

“Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Range Flight Safety,” available in SATERN, is intended for anyone needing initial training to perform NASA UAS range flight operations, personnel in the management chain responsible for oversight of NASA UAS operations, and personnel directly supporting or interacting with NASA UAS range flight operations. To take this new course, participants should first complete “Range Flight Safety Orientation” (SMA-AS-WBT-410) or an equivalent. 

Questions about the course can be directed to Wall or Range Flight Safety Program Manager Chuck Loftin.