The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership focuses on several key areas where we are strategically aligning our capabilities, facilities, expertise, and assets. We are positioned to provide world-class capability in these focus areas to the UAS industry, which are key enablers to expanded, efficient use of unmanned systems for many applications.
1) Airworthiness Certification
MAAP helps companies navigate through the FAA type certification process by providing expertise, facilities, and testing capabilities to develop custom certification bases and demonstrate compliance. We work closely with FAA stakeholders to help companies overcome the key certification hurdles as early in the process as possible and to enable challenging operations rapidly. MAAP excels at the identification of an appropriate certification basis and subsequent means of compliance for the areas of greatest concern in the certification process.
2) Operations Over People
MAAP is uniquely suited to research and enable safe operations of UAS over people through the assets and capabilities that exist at Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech–Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics (CIB) investigates the mechanism of injury following trauma to enhance understanding of human tolerance to injury, engineer enhanced safety countermeasures, and reduce the incidence of injuries.
MAAP’s connection to the CIBM and our active involvement in industry standards under development for operations over people have led to this as a primary focus area for our research. We believe that there are some near-term solutions to this challenge that can enable a majority of operations; however, we are also working on developing long-term solutions that will make these operations truly efficient.
3) Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS)
MAAP utilizes unique operational approvals and infrastructure to enable BVLOS operations for many different applications. A 5,000 mi2 “Beyond the Horizons” test range located in Central Virginia is enabled by unique authorizations and infrastructure that allow flights up to 7,000 feet AGL. The range covers an area of that is full of critical infrastructure such as pipelines, powerlines, railroads, and highways. Flight operations are supported by multiple airports in the area that are accustomed to UAS flights, in Class G, E, and D airspace. Additionally, MAAP is equipping the range with mobile radar systems to augment, and someday replace, requirements for visual observers.
In addition to the Central Virginia test range, MAAP is actively conducting research on enabling beyond visual line-of-sight operations in urban areas. We have several unique locations that are ideal urban test beds for BVLOS operations, including a location with a one-of-a-kind radio test bed.
4) UAS Communications
MAAP is proactively working to solve one of the greatest challenges to UAS integration: secure, long distance, highly-capability communications. We work closely with the top-notch programs at Virginia Tech, including the Hume Center and Wireless @ VT, which are developing revolutionary solutions to major communications challenges.
MAAP is particularly interested in low-altitude, long distance command and control (C2) and payload datalinks to enable point-to-point linear infrastructure inspections ranging from hundreds to thousands of feet above ground level. MAAP is also investing significant effort in securing the UAS C2 links and countering UAS threats through datalinks.