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Abstract

Over the last several decades, the notion of traditional aircraft design has significantly changed. While there are many modern aircraft that resemble earlier models, their components, systems, and overall architecture have evolved, including the introduction of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). Despite the growing consumer attraction to own and operate these aircraft, the subsequent impact on safety is an area of intense concern. The requirement of an established maintenance program for manned aircraft is rooted in ensuring that all aircraft are deemed safe for flight. Preventive maintenance schedules are based on component reliability data, which minimizes unnecessary maintenance while preventing maintenance-related aircraft accidents. This same requirement has not been extended to small unmanned aircraft systems. Current regulations and requirements for sUAS maintenance refer only to maintaining airworthiness, with no specific scheduled or unscheduled maintenance practices required. As the demand for small unmanned aircraft systems continues to grow, the safety threat will rise. The requirement of formal maintenance practices, which are based on component reliability data, would fulfill this need. To further explore the possibility of an established maintenance program for sUAS operators, this paper reviews current maintenance requirements and proposes new accident data collection measures which contribute to the creation of a scheduled maintenance program. A formal certification process which follows a modified MSG-3 process is also proposed.

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