Title

Clearing the Approach Path: Evaluation of Pilot Spotting of Small Unmanned Aircraft During Final

Presenter Email

matt.vance@okstate.edu

Location

Mori Hosseini Student Union Events Center (Bldg #610) – Rooms 165 E/F

Start Date

3-3-2020 1:15 PM

End Date

3-3-2020 2:15 PM

Submission Type

Presentation

Topic Area

Implications for pilots; Integrated Airspace (Manned vs. Unmanned); Implications for pilots

Keywords

unmanned aircraft system (UAS), approach path, sighting report

Abstract

Unmanned aircraft sightings by pilots, air traffic controllers, and other aviation stakeholders have spiked in recent years. Since the Federal Aviation Administration began tracking UAS sightings in 2014, UAS sightings have ballooned from 22 incidents per month to more than 192 incidents per month in 2018. In 2018, more than 22.8% of pilot-reported UAS sightings were encountered during the final approach phase of flight. As the population of unmanned aircraft continues to grow, the likelihood of pilots encountering UAS in low-altitude airspace rises. Without additional technology such as UAS remote identification systems, pilots must rely solely on visual scanning to clear the approach path of potential collision threats posed by drones. This research examined the effectiveness of pilot visual detection of a small unmanned aircraft system during five aircraft final approach scenarios in which the UAS trespassed into the approach path. During the experiment, the UAS breached the approach corridor from various aspect angles, and either remained stationary or maneuvered laterally. During each approach, the aircraft pilot would execute a missed approach at a designated altitude, thereby preserving a vertical separation from the UAS to avoid an actual collision. Cumulatively, participants detected the UAS during 30% of approaches. During approaches when the UAS was in motion, the sighting rate improved to 50%, with a mean detection range of 1,593 ft. When the UAS remained static, the sighting rate dropped to 13.6%, at a mean range of 647 ft. The detection angle (between the aircraft and UAS) for successful sightings was determined to approximate the vectors of successful sightings. A majority of successful UAS sightings occurred when the UAS was flown within 5˚ laterally and 10˚ vertically of a pilot’s central view. Additional qualitative comments were collected from the participants and evaluated for trends. Four of ten participants indicated that unmanned aircraft in motion were significantly easier to spot. Participants also remarked about UAS contrast, potential for UAS misidentification, and ideal detection aspects. The authors note that the visual sightings data suggests that pilots would only have a limited margin of time to detect and initiate evasive maneuvers, based on the FAA’s Recommended Minimum Reaction Time Required for Evasion chart.

Presenter Biography

Dr. Matt Vance holds a PhD in Aviation Science from Saint Louis University. He is the Oklahoma State University Professional Pilot faculty representative responsible for academic classes covering human factors, crew resource management, aviation law, ethics, FAR 141 PVT/INST/COMM/MULTI ground school, space science and safety. Additionally, Dr. Vance is a Certified Flight Instructor and teaches in our FAR Part 141 flight program. Research publications and interests include sUAS integration into the NAS, the propensity for autonomous airliners, crew resource management training and basic human preference. Previous to his posting at OSU, he served as Senior Researcher/Flight Instructor for the Center for Aviation and Space at Saint Louis University. Previous industry positions include Boeing Director of Advanced Global Services and Support Business Development at Boeing Defense Space and Security, Secondee (Exchange Officer) – UK Ministry of Defense in London, Director of Washington Studies and Analysis, Future Combat Systems, Air Traffic Management and Boeing Commercial Airplanes Product Strategy. During his years at McDonnell Douglas, Dr. Vance served as a Principal Engineer for Phantom Works Systems Assessment division and prior to that assignment he was a Lead Engineer for the HARPOON missile. His flight experience includes 5,200 hours between U.S. Naval Flight Officer, civil Pilot-in-Command / Instructor flying time. His 20-year military career includes more than 3,000 hours of patrol / submarine hunting with extensive operational experience in Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and North Atlantic theaters and joint Command Center Duty Officer service at the United States Transportation Command.

View Matt Vance’s Bio Page

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Mar 3rd, 1:15 PM Mar 3rd, 2:15 PM

Clearing the Approach Path: Evaluation of Pilot Spotting of Small Unmanned Aircraft During Final

Mori Hosseini Student Union Events Center (Bldg #610) – Rooms 165 E/F

Unmanned aircraft sightings by pilots, air traffic controllers, and other aviation stakeholders have spiked in recent years. Since the Federal Aviation Administration began tracking UAS sightings in 2014, UAS sightings have ballooned from 22 incidents per month to more than 192 incidents per month in 2018. In 2018, more than 22.8% of pilot-reported UAS sightings were encountered during the final approach phase of flight. As the population of unmanned aircraft continues to grow, the likelihood of pilots encountering UAS in low-altitude airspace rises. Without additional technology such as UAS remote identification systems, pilots must rely solely on visual scanning to clear the approach path of potential collision threats posed by drones. This research examined the effectiveness of pilot visual detection of a small unmanned aircraft system during five aircraft final approach scenarios in which the UAS trespassed into the approach path. During the experiment, the UAS breached the approach corridor from various aspect angles, and either remained stationary or maneuvered laterally. During each approach, the aircraft pilot would execute a missed approach at a designated altitude, thereby preserving a vertical separation from the UAS to avoid an actual collision. Cumulatively, participants detected the UAS during 30% of approaches. During approaches when the UAS was in motion, the sighting rate improved to 50%, with a mean detection range of 1,593 ft. When the UAS remained static, the sighting rate dropped to 13.6%, at a mean range of 647 ft. The detection angle (between the aircraft and UAS) for successful sightings was determined to approximate the vectors of successful sightings. A majority of successful UAS sightings occurred when the UAS was flown within 5˚ laterally and 10˚ vertically of a pilot’s central view. Additional qualitative comments were collected from the participants and evaluated for trends. Four of ten participants indicated that unmanned aircraft in motion were significantly easier to spot. Participants also remarked about UAS contrast, potential for UAS misidentification, and ideal detection aspects. The authors note that the visual sightings data suggests that pilots would only have a limited margin of time to detect and initiate evasive maneuvers, based on the FAA’s Recommended Minimum Reaction Time Required for Evasion chart.