RTCA 203, the US government and industry consensus group crafting performance guidelines that could allow unmanned air vehicles to fly in civil airspace, has drastically pulled in its estimate for the date when it expects to finish its sense and avoid minimum performance specifications, widely considered the key linchpin to enable civil UAV operations.
The US Federal Aviation Administration will typically use RTCA findings as the baseline for rulemakings or advisory circulars.
Meeting in Washington from 14-16 October, the group changed its estimated completion date for the materials from 2019 to 2013, largely by easing a previous constraint that the sense and avoid systems operate in all airspace, including busier terminal areas (class B, C and D).
Under the new plan, specifications will be written for UAVs that will nominally fly in uncontrolled (class G) or other less-crowded airspace (class E and A), operating out of private airfields. Contingencies for cases where the UAVs enter controlled airspace will be included.