From: The Aerospace States Association Briefing
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Nov. 19: NTSB Rules UAVs Are Subject To FAA Regulations
Date: Wed Nov 19 12:59:55 MST 2014
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Customized Briefing for Scott Jenkins November 19, 2014
Policy News - State
Policy News - Federal
STEM Education

Policy News - State

NTSB Rules UAVs Are Subject To FAA Regulations.

An AP story appearing in the New York Times (11/18, B2, Subscription Publication) reports that in its decision, the NTSB said Tuesday that the “government has the power to hold drone operators accountable when they operate the remote-control aircraft recklessly.” According to the article, the NTSB ruled that UAVs are a “type of aircraft and fall under existing F.A.A. rules.” This decision came after Raphael Pirker successfully appealed an FAA fine of $10,000 for operating a UAV “recklessly” in 2011.

        The Hill (11/18, Laing) reports that Pirker had argued that the FAA’s regulations are not applicable to UAVs since the agency has yet to finalize a “specific set of regulations for the new technology.” However, it added that the NTSB, in its decision, “sided with the FAA on the definition of a drone as an aircraft,” while staying out of the “debate about whether Pirker was operating one recklessly.”

        The Wall Street Journal (11/18, Nicas, Subscription Publication) describes the NTSB’s decision as a win for the FAA, which has faced challenges in regulating UAVs.

        Meanwhile, Bloomberg News (11/18, Levin) reports Pirker’s lawyer Brendan Schulman said “his client is still reviewing options for how to respond” to the NTSB’s decision. Schulman said in an email that the ruling is “narrowly limited.” According to the report, the FAA said in a statement that the agency “continues to believe Pirker’s flight was a safety hazard and the penalty should stand.”

        NPR (11/18, Chappell) “The Two-Way” blog quotes the FAA as stating that the NTSB “affirmed the agency’s position that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) meet the legal definition of ‘aircraft,’ and that the agency may take enforcement action against anyone who operates a UAS or model aircraft in a careless or reckless manner.”

        Reuters (11/18), CBS News (11/18, Pegues), Fast Company (11/18, Wade), the Dayton (OH) Business Journal (11/18, Navera, Subscription Publication), Motherboard (11/18, Koebler), Engadget (11/18, Moon), Vertical Magazine (11/18, Head), and other media sources also cover the story.

Anderson: State Should Not Give Up On Spaceport America.

In an op-ed for the Albuquerque (NM) Journal (11/19), Christine Anderson, Executive Director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, writes that before Virgin Galactic suffered a “tragic accident,” the Spaceport Authority was focused on getting Spaceport America ready for its anchor tenant. However, now, the authority is “increasing” its work to draw more launch customers to the spaceport, such as World View Enterprises. With other spaceports in other states to compete with, Anderson asks that the state not “give up” on the spaceport.

Texas Students Will Have “Unprecedented” Research Access With Stargate Program.

The KHOU-TV Houston (11/18, Kocherga) website reports how students at the University of Texas, Brownsville will benefit when SpaceX builds its commercial launch site in Texas, beginning next month. They reportedly will have “unprecedented opportunities for space research” through the Stargate program. Fredrick Jenet, Director of the Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy, said that its is an “understatement” to call the collaboration a “game changer.”

Policy News - Federal

Obama Reportedly Considering Expansion Of DACA, More Visas For STEM Grads.

Bloomberg News (11/19, Przybyla, Dorning) reports that “according to people familiar with the proposal,” the President is mulling to overhaul the immigration system through executive action, some of the illegal immigrants that he may allow to stay in the US indefinitely without threat of deportation are “parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents.” Bloomberg News adds that the President “is also likely to include an expansion of” the Deferred Action, “which has given reprieves to 600,000 child immigrants,” as well as “a program that gives work foreign graduates of US universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.” Bloomberg News also reports that the President could make his announcement “as soon as Nov. 20.”

Shuster Says Deliberations Over FAA Appropriations Will Be Open Process.

The Hill (11/18, Laing) reports that Rep. Bill Shuster, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that when Congress meets next year to extend FAA appropriations, which expire in September, it will be done under “an open process.” Shuster said, “I think if you look at over the 90’s and 2000’s, both President Clinton or President Bush both pretty much hatched it in the back room and then they got slaughtered when they took it to the floor of the Senate or the House because they didn’t bring the stakeholders to the table.” During a hearing on the matter Tuesday, lawmakers raised issues “that could cause turbulence” during the deliberations, including FAA oversight of domestic UAV use and implementation of the NextGen program.

Boeing To Use Space Program Controls To Improve Missile Defense System.

Reuters (11/18, Shalal) reports that according to Boeing’s Craig Cooning, Boeing and the US Missile Defense Agency will use the same controls from space programs to improve the quality and reliability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. According to the article, Cooning said that the Pentagon’s 2016 budget should pay for the restructuring.


US Army, Navy, Industry Begins Open Software Quest For FVL.

Breaking Defense (11/19, Freedberg) reports on the US military’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, noting that the “Army, Navy, and industry are already at work on software standards” for FVL aircraft, even though first flight isn’t expected until the 2030s. Breaking Defense explains that those software standards include a new “model-based” approach “to software architectures that will require a culture change among programmers and defense bureaucrats alike.” Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Cmdr. William Hargreaves of Naval Air Systems Command said, “If we don’t stay aligned, we’re going to fail from the get-go. ... If we don’t apply it across the services the same way, we’ll run into the cost growth that has plagued previous joint programs.”

K-MAX UAV Helicopter Tested For Use In Wildfire Suppression.

Flightglobal (11/18, Parsons) reports that a November 5 demonstration by Kaman Aerospace and Lockheed Martin of the “optionally piloted” K-MAX helicopter showed that “the U.S. Department of the Interior could begin using unmanned air vehicles to battle forest fire within a year.” The test demonstration took place at Griffiss International Airport in upstate New York, an FAA-designated UAV test site. “During a 4h window, the helicopter performed autonomous fire suppression operations including collecting and dropping 2,270kg (500gal) of water on controlled burns without a pilot in the cockpit, says Dan Spoor, Lockheed’s vice-president of aviation and unmanned systems,” Flightglobal added.

ISAAC Robotic Arm Installed At Langley.

Reinforced Plastics (11/18) reports that at the Langley Research Center, NASA has installed the Integrated Structural Assembly of Advanced Composites (ISAAC), a “huge robotic arm” with the capability to place carbon fibers and epoxy “in pre-programmed patterns.” Structural mechanics engineer Chauncey Wu said, “We have worked for two years to obtain this precise robotic technology. But we proposed the idea more than six years ago. ... It will really make a difference in our ability to understand composite materials and processes for use in aviation and space vehicles.” The article notes that once ISAAC is operational next year, it will be first used by the Advanced Composites Project, which aims to reduce “the amount of time and money it takes to bring new, advanced composites from test tube to vehicles.”


Documents Show That RD Amross Marks Up Cost Of RD-180 Engines.

Reuters (11/18, Grow, Grey, Anin) reports that documents uncovered by it show that RD Amross is marking up the RD-180 rocket engine used by United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets by millions of dollars. Energomash, which makes the engines, sells them to RD Amross, which then are ultimately purchased by the Pentagon. Under a multi-year contract, RD Amross would earn $93 million in profit. Furthermore, the article highlights that a Pentagon audit rejected an earlier contract that had a similar mark-up, stating that these were not allowed under law. According to the article, these facts are likely to increase the scrutiny by lawmakers like Sen. John McCain, who previously wrote to the Pentagon asking about this contract over suspicions that it was being overcharged. Meanwhile, the article notes that there are questions about what the company does with all the money it now makes.

ATK, Orbital Merger Vote Pushed Back To January.

The Washington Post (11/18, Jayakumar) continues coverage of the proposed merger of Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Orbital Sciences, which is “back on track” following the recent launch failure of Orbital’s Antares rocket following a review by ATK. However, the “special stockholder meeting” where investors will vote on the measure has been pushed back from December to January 27, with the deal expected to close in February if approved.

        Orbital Sciences To Manage NASA Science Balloon Operations Program. The Virginia Business Magazine (11/19) briefly notes that along with the merger moving forward, Orbital won a NASA contract “to operate the space agency’s Science Balloon Operations program.” According to the article, both pieces of news show that Orbital’s prospects are “looking up.” Meanwhile, under the contract, Orbital is expected to conduct 15 “high-altitude scientific research” flights per year.

JSC To Take Part In First SpaceCom Conference.

The Houston Chronicle (11/18, Berger) reports that the first SpaceCom conference, which aims to connect space industry officials with others from the “energy, medical, transportation and communication sectors,” will be held in Houston on Nov. 17-19, 2015. Ellen Ochoa, director of the Johnson Space Center, said, “This is something we’ve been interested in doing. ... With the technologies we’ve been developing here there are applications into other industries.” According to the article, JSC will supply “exhibits, speakers and bring people to the space center itself for tours.” Ochoa added, “We’d like to let people know what we’re doing in space, and what our challenges are, so we can learn from them.”

        JPL Will Help Host COSPAR Conference In 2018. The Pasadena (CA) Star-News (11/18, Vuong) reports that Caltech, “with the aid of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” will host the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) conference in 2018. Michael Ross, chief executive officer of the Pasadena Center Operating Company, said that because of JPL and Caltech, Pasadena is “prepared and poised” for the conference. JPL spokesperson Gregg Vane said, “Our community of scientists will have an opportunity to interact with 3,500 scientists from around the world without having to leave home. ... They will invite them to their laboratories. They will initiate new partnership ideas. ... So this will give opportunities for the scientists here in the Pasadena area to form partnerships they might not be able to do otherwise.”


Oregon Adds 9,900 New Jobs Thanks In Part To Manufacturing.

The AP (11/19, Cooper) reports the state of Oregon added 9,900 new jobs in the state for October thanks to “particularly strong” hiring in manufacturing and two other sectors. The state has not created that many jobs in a single month since August 1995, and the article notes that food manufacturers did not eliminate as many jobs as they normally do in the fall.

STEM Education

New Robotics Station Unveiled At South Carolina Elementary School.

The Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal (11/17, Fox) reports on the new STEM Star Station at Mary H. Wright Elementary School in Spartangburg County, South Carolina. The pilot center features robotics and computers funded by a $10,500 donation from community partners. The station will serve mostly fourth and fifth graders, as a bridge between elementary and middle school. The piece frames the new center as part of the district’s one-to-one technology initiative, designed to meet the growing demand for STEM jobs. District 7 Superintendent Russell Booker “can’t wait to talk about this makerspace” when he goes to the White House with over 100 school superintendents this Wednesday for President Obama’s “ConnectED to the Future” event.

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