Prior Publisher

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


As is well known, the integration of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) or “drones” into the National Airspace System (NAS) has captured significant industry, academic, regulatory and media attention. For sUAS that typically fly low and slow, the possibility of a mid-air collision with a nearby general aviation aircraft needs to be studied from a system safety perspective to identify possible hazards and to assess mitigations. The Aviation System Risk Model (ASRM) is a first-generation socio-technical model that uses a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) methodology to integrate possible hazards to assess a non-linear safety risk metric. Using inductive logic, the ASRM may be used to evaluate underlying causal factors linked to the air vehicle and/or to the systems and procedures that lead to the unsafe state and the probabilistic interactions among these factors that contribute to the safety risk. The ASRM can also assess the projected impact of mitigations. Recently, the ASRM has been updated with the use of the Hazard Classification and Analysis System (HCAS) that provides an analytic structure for categorizing hazards related to the UAS, Airmen, Operations and the Environment. In this paper, the ASRM, together with the HCAS, is demonstrated with a notional scenario that involves a sUAS being used for aerial surveillance in the siting of a wind turbine farm near the Yukon River in Alaska. It is conjectured that the sUAS interacts with a general aviation aircraft flying in the nearby vicinity from a local airport. The sUAS being used is a fixed wing-type where there is a failure of the separation assurance function since the sUAS leaves its Area of Operation (AO) due to a Ground Control Station (GCS) transmission disruption (from faulty maintenance) and by the waypoints being incorrectly programmed. In the modeling approach, the time-dependent effects of wind velocity, wind sensor faults, and wind sensor accuracy are also included. In particular, the system safety study focuses on investigating the mitigating efficacy of alternative geofencing configurations.



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