To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Aug. 11: Officials Indicate Widespread UAV Use Still Years Away
Date: Mon Aug 11 12:06:41 MDT 2014
Policy News - State
Officials Indicate Widespread UAV Use Still Years Away.
The Wall Street Journal (8/10, Pasztor, Subscription Publication) reports that during a panel sponsored by the Air Line Pilots Association last week, regulators from the US, Canada, and the ICAO said that widespread use of commercial UAVs may take much longer than proponents anticipate. John Hickey, Deputy Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety at the FAA, said, “We’re still many years away from what you would see as safe integration in the very busiest airspace. ... We will not allow [drones] to come into the system until we are completely sure they are safe.” The Journal says that these comments indicate that the FAA thought itself obligated to formulate a plan for integration of UAVs into US airspace by 2015, rather than allowing widespread use by then.
Amazon, UAS Industry Joining Together To Lobby For Faster Regulations. The Washington Post (8/8, Ho) reported that Amazon is partnering with “three drone manufacturers” to petition Federal agencies “to move forward with regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles.” Noting that various Akin Gump lobbyists “have been meeting with staff and policymakers in Congress, the FAA, the Federal Communications Commission and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy,” the article pointed out that the FAA controls most of the authority over commercial drones and is further expected “to announce proposed rules for small commercial drones later this year.”
Online Maps Target UAS Users, Show Off-Limits Areas. The Daily Dot (8/9, Sankin) website reported that “flying a drone is a lot of fun” but “also kind of dangerous.” Befitting this uncertainty over the technology, the article continues, UAS regulations “are a confusing mish-mash of FAA guidelines, potentially unconstitutional state laws, and a deafening silence on the issue from Congress.” Accordingly, the article focused on “an interactive map” that data analyst Bobby Sudekum compiled that “details all of the places in the United States where it is and isn’t legal to fly drones.” As the article pointed out, “the most distinctive no-drone zone” is a “giant” zone around Washington, D.C., which is due to Federal policy banning “virtually all aircraft flying within an approximately 10-mile radius of Reagan National Airport.”
SpaceX Negotiating Incentive Packages With South Texas Cities.
The Rio Grande Valley (TX) Morning Star (8/10, Perez-Trevino) reports that the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. and the McAllen Economic Development Corp. “have been working on incentives for SpaceX, which plans to inject up to $85 million in the local economy in developing a rocket launch complex at Boca Chica Beach.” Sources indicate the cities’ economic development corps. “are negotiating possible incentives ranging from $400,000 to $500,000 each to be spaced out over a number of years.” The Brownsville Economic Development Council also confirmed the “the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corp. has agreed to provide SpaceX with $5 million.” SpaceX has also had “communication with the city of South Padre Island and talks could be resuming.”
Policy News - Federal
Ex-Im Bank Not Mentioned In Possible House Agenda.
Reuters (8/8, Felsenthal) reported on House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) omission of the US Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization from a possible agenda in September, highlighting the political implications of the decision and possible impact on the Bank’s future. Reuters noted briefly that President Obama and business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, support the institution.
Komarov Discusses Impact Of US Sanctions.
RIA Novosti (RUS) (8/8) reported that Igor Komarov, head of Russia’s United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC), thought that if the US continues sanctioning Russia, the country may stop relying on radiation-resistant components built in the US. Furthermore, Russia may “stop relying on our long-time partners in space exploration.” The article noted that the US wants NASA “to curb communications with its Russian counterpart” even as it wants to “end...US dependency on Russia for flights to the International Space Station.”
Some Analysts Expect Airbus, At Best, To Break Even On A380.
The New York Times (8/9, Mouawad, Subscription Publication) reported that while passengers “love” flying on an Airbus A380, Airbus has “struggled” to get airlines to buy the plane “for a number of reasons, some merely cyclical.” According to the article, analysts at best expect the company to break even on the plane mainly because passengers appear to prefer to book direct flights on smaller planes. The article noted that airlines in the U.S. are especially dubious about the plane, fearing that the A380 would eliminate all the profitability gains they have made in recent years by reintroducing capacity that was cut.
FAA, NATCA Announce New Airport Voluntary Reporting System.
Aviation News Today (8/8) reported online that the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association unveiled “the launch of a safety reporting program called the Airport Voluntary Reporting System” yesterday, which “allows FAA employees who work in the agency’s Office of Airports to raise safety concerns without fear of retaliation.” In a release, Secretary Foxx stated, “Safety is our highest priority, and it is critical that the Department of Transportation and our partners promote a culture of safety,” elaborating that “a culture of safety means that employees can report safety concerns freely, without retaliation, so that the millions of airline passengers may have the best, safest experience possible.”
Public Will Need To Trust Automation Before Used In Aviation.
Aviation Week (8/11, Warwick) reports that in order for aviation to become more automated, the systems that would fly and manage air traffic will need to become more “trusted.” Danette Allen, chief technologist for autonomy at the Langley Research Center, said, “Aviation has been very successful with a -humancentric paradigm, the idea that it is humans that save the day,” but now “there is a paradigm shift from automated to autonomous: automation is relegation; autonomy is delegation. ... Autonomicity, or self-awareness, is a step beyond. The system can monitor its own state and self-configure, self-optimize, self-protect and self-heal.” In order for people to trust all this to a machine, Allen believes there needs to be “new methods of verification and validation.” Mark Moore, an aerospace engineer at the Langley Research Center, said, “Achieving high levels of trusted autonomy is a multibillion-dollar challenge that will take more than just aviation to achieve.”
WPost Calls For Officials To Address Space Weather Dangers.
In an editorial, the Washington Post (8/10) takes a look at the predicted “upswing in volatile solar behavior,” which is expected to result in “space weather” that endangers “modern society.” The Post claims that the dangers associated with a large “coronal mass ejection... is not hypothetical” as a recent NASA study revealed that “the chances Earth will be hit by” a massive ejection “in the next decade are a too-high-for-comfort 12 percent.” The paper calls for officials to “do more to prepare,” such as “adapting satellite systems, toughening electric grids and, above all, ensuring that scientists have the tools they need to anticipate space weather.”
Florida Is In Contention For Blue Origin Flights.
The Orlando (FL) Sentinel (8/10, Burnett) reports that while Florida was not selected by SpaceX to host a commercial launch site, it still believes it is in contention for Blue Origin launches. The article notes that Blue Origin has “lagged” behind SpaceX in the commercial spaceflight market. However, instead of cargo missions to the ISS, the company will “start out with space-tourism flights.”
Small-Satellite Industry “Transforming” As Suppliers Shift Focus.
Drawing on comments made by executives at the Small Satellite Conference at Utah State University, Space News (8/8, Werner, Subscription Publication) reported that the small-satellite industry is “transforming” as “suppliers who previously focused on providing products and services for individual spacecraft look for ways to profit from the growing number of constellations.” However, Space News added that there is a “mismatch” creating friction in the industry, where prices for products offered by traditional firms are higher than what “entrepreneurs establishing large cubesat constellations” are willing to pay, causing “many of the new space entrepreneurs” to build their own spaceflight hardware.
May: SLS Development On Track Or Ahead Of Schedule.
Jeff Foust at Space Politics (8/8) wrote that at the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention, SLS program manager Todd May spoke on how the SLS’ development is on track or ahead of schedule. He said, “We said four years ago we’d be at critical design review on the core [stage] this November. I’m glad to report that we actually completed that last month. ... Things are going pretty well. As far as the critical path, we’ve still got three to five months of slack” on when the core stage should be delivered to the Stennis Space Center. According to Foust, this “rosy assessment” of the rocket’s progress counters the more pessimistic assessment of the GAO which warned that the SLS program offices calculated that there was “a 90 percent likelihood” there would not be enough funds through 2017. May, addressing those concerns, said, “They saw some things a couple of years ago. Some of the data is now obsolete.”
Connecticut Supports Manufacturing Training Loan.
The AP (8/9, Singer) reported on a 10-year, $711,533 loan from the state of Connecticut to help TOMZ Corp. establish a training center in order to help train workers for high-tech manufacturing jobs. According to the article, Gov. Dannel Malloy said the loan is intended to help the state’s aerospace companies meet the demand of an expected uptick in production over the next few years, noting that “skilled manufacturing workers” are in short supply. “We are providing leading manufacturers, like TOMZ, with the support they need to expand, increase production and create good-paying jobs with good benefits to counter the shortage of skilled workers in this industry,” said Malloy. Although the AP notes that Connecticut’s Department of Labor said that the state is more reliant on manufacturing jobs than other states, some economists expressed doubt that the state is facing a shortage.
Denver Public Schools Will Expand STEM Classes This Year.
The Denver Post (8/10, Robles) reports that Denver Public Schools will expand access to its STEM classes by spending some $7 million to add classes in eight high schools, most in low-income areas. Students will be offered game-design coding, health biotechnology, manufacturing, and pre-engineering classes. The US Department of Labor and Department of Education are funding the expanded access through a Youth Career Connect grant that will including the hiring of five teachers and part-time assistant principals at three of the schools. Local companies also have donated some $2 million toward the effort.
Texas Partnership Is Behind New STEM Academy For Arlington District.
The Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram (8/7, Nagy) reports that Arlington’s schools are partnering with the University of Texas there to create a “free, dual-credit” STEM Academy that is scheduled to begin in August 2015 at Martin High School. It will offer credits toward high school and college for the same classes in four areas – “engineering, biology/biomedical science, computer science and math/science.” Organizers said “students will be able to complete first-year college courses before they graduate, and simplify their transition to college.” The district will begin recruiting soon from students in seventh and eighth grades for the new academy.
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