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Home arrow Engineering arrow Small Unmanned Fixed-Wing Aircraft Design. A Practical Approach
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Brief Technical Description

We find it helpful to repeat a brief technical description in the OM since this document is typically the first one that is referred to on the airfield.

Operating Limits, Conditions, and Control

We next set out the basic types of flying the aircraft can be used for, such as the following:

  • 1. Operation within visual line of sight (VLOS). In the UK, the aircraft must remain below 400 ft above local ground level and within a 500 m radius of the pilot, who must be able to maintain unaided visual contact.
  • 2. Operation within VLOS of two pilots where handover is carried out between pilots who are not separated by more than 800 m. In the UK, the aircraft must remain below 400 ft above ground level and within a 500 m radius of one or other pilot, who must be able to maintain unaided visual contact while they are in charge of the aircraft. Suitable handover arrangements must be in place and agreed with the regulators.
  • 3. Operation within extended visual line of sight (EVLOS). For example, the aircraft must remain below 400 ft above ground level and within a 1000 m radius of the pilot, who must be able to maintain visual contact to ensure that no other aerial vehicle is in the area and representing a possible collision hazard. In this mode, the pilot relies on autopilot operation of the aircraft for flight control since it will not be possible to have sight of control surface actions or small motions of the aircraft.
  • 4. Operation beyond line of sight (BLOS). The aircraft can fly to arbitrary locations, but an acceptable process for dealing with collision avoidance and guarding against flying away from the planned flight path must be in place. Typically, this might involve the use of a designated danger area combined with external (radar) monitoring of the aircraft’s location, or alternatively a network of observers who can maintain visual contact with the aircraft and have reliable radio links to the pilot.

In each case, we detail how the team will operate the aircraft in terms of the staff involved and the control systems fitted to the aircraft, typically ranging from a simple, hand-held model aircraft transmitter to a fully configured flight operations vehicle with multiple staff and a range of communications systems and channels.

 
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