What is a drone?

A drone is the slang term for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). UAV’s are remotely piloted meaning it’s operated by a pilot on the ground. They come in multiple sizes and are used for various applications from videography to atmospheric research. UAV’s are manufactured by many different companies or built from scratch. They come in a variety of sizes: from a tiny quadcopter, to a 300 lb twin engine aircraft, to the 15,000 lb Global Hawk with a .130ft wingspan. Most UAV’s are available for purchase through various retailers. However, they are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration which does require some education prior to flying. You can find that here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/

What is the difference between a UAV and a UAS?

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is different than an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in that the term UAS encompasses the aircraft's payload, ground control station, and other components whereas the term UAV just refers to the aircraft itself. The payload can be as simple as a GoPro camera or as complicated as a piece of experimental research equipment.

The FAA’s technical description is “An unmanned aircraft system is an unmanned aircraft and the equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft. An unmanned aircraft is a component of a UAS. It is defined by statute as an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8)).”

How do I learn to fly one?

Always review the current FAA guidelines before flying your aircraft. Since this is an emerging technology, the regulatory requirements often change in response to new data. You can find a helpful guide from the FAA here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/

What is the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex?

https://www.faa.gov/uas/research/reports/media/uas-test-site-data-collection-and-analysis.pdf . The PPUTRC is tasked with data collection and facilitating UAS operation into the NAS, our charter is to work with the FAA on how to do that. The 7 FAA designated Test sites allocate space for the safe testing and evaluation of various types of UAS.

How does ACUASI fit in?

The Alaska Center for UAS Integration has been integral to the development and safe implementation of UAS into the National Airspace System. ACUASI is also the leader of the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex. ACUASI leads, educates, and innovates in the Arctic and beyond through UAS research, development, testing, evaluation, and outreach to provide actionable data to the State of Alaska, government, industry, academia, and local communities. We also partner with other Test Sites to develop a cohesive testing and evaluation structure for UAS.

What if I want ACUASI to fly a UAS for me?

We provide contract based services to various entities, please contact us at uaf-acuasi@alaska.edu to discuss your particular need.