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FAA-Sponsored Research on Small UAS/Rotorcraft Airborne Collision

  • 1.  FAA-Sponsored Research on Small UAS/Rotorcraft Airborne Collision

    Posted 07 Feb, 2019 11:42

    Current forecasts from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predict that the small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) fleet, both for hobbyist and commercial operations included, operating in the National Airspace System (NAS) will increase from a fleet of 1.1 million units (as of December 2017) to a total of 2.4 million units over the following five years. Research is being conducted to define airborne hazard severity thresholds for collisions between unmanned and manned aircraft. The previous research conducted by the FAA's UAS CoE, ASSURE, was focused on analyzing airborne collisions  of sUAS with a typical narrow body commercial transport jet and a typical business jet, certified under 14 CFR Part 25 requirements (

    Currently, funded follow-on research regarding airborne collision includes evaluating the severity of collisions between sUAS and rotorcraft airframes certified under part 14 CFR Part 27. The University of Alabama in Huntsville's (UAH) Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center, and Aerophysics Research Center are conducting high-speed impact testing of multirotor sUAS with rotorcraft components in support of this FAA program.  UAH is requesting donation of the following structurally intact Part 27 aircraft components from manufacturers, vendors, and operators for use as impact test articles:

    1-3 Part 27 Main Rotor Blades

    5-10 Tail Rotor Blades  (Tail rotor gear boxes and output shafts are preferred so that we can conduct impact tests on t/r assemblies spinning at operational RPM)

    1-2 Tail Booms

    8-10 Front Windshields

    The outcomes of this research will enable assessment of sUAS and rotary wing aircraft impact risks, and development of future UAS regulations to support safe airspace integration.  This also has implications for urban air mobility as small unmanned systems can potentially share airspace with electric VTOL aircraft in urban operating environments.

    The point of contact for this research effort is Jerry Hendrix at Please direct information relative to these parts soonest.

    Nishanth Goli
    Young Professional Director, AIAA Greater Huntsville Section
    Research Engineer, University of Alabama in Huntsville