Washington: In U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued restricted category type certificates to permit aerial surveillance by two unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The UAS will be used to support emergency response groups for oil spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance.
The newly certified UAS — Insitu’s Scan Eagle X200 and AeroVironment’s Puma AE — are “small” craft weighing less than 55 pounds. Each is about 4-½ feet long, with wingspans of 10 and 9 feet, respectively. The Scan Eagle’s operates with a GPS/inertial navigation system. The Puma AE is man-portable and can be assembled quickly, hand-launched and recovered on sea or land. The FAA announcement said that a major energy company plans to fly the ScanEagle off the Alaska coast in international waters beginning in August. Plans for the initial ship-launched flights include surveys of ocean ice floes and migrating whales in Arctic oil exploration areas. The Puma is expected to support emergency response crews for oil spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance over the Beaufort Sea.