NATO plans to issue its first Stanag for UAV airworthiness in November this year based on adaptation of the European Aviation Safety Agency's CS-23 civil airworthiness code.
Senior NATO committees reviewed a final 205-page draft for Stanag 4671 in March.
Individual alliance member country review – what NATO calls its “silence” process – elapsed at the end of April with no objections identified.
Formal ratification for the new standard began on 1 May, says David Seagle, programme lead for the US Navy PMA-263 Global Hawk maritime demonstration and US delegation head on the NATO UAV flight in non-segregated airspace (FINAS) working group.
Speaking at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Unmanned Systems Europe 2007 conference in Cologne, Germany on 8 May, Seagle said “our goal is to have that issued as a Stanag in November”.
The draft standard was prepared by the FINAS UAV systems airworthiness requirements (USAR) subcommittee. USAR was headed by the French air force, which initiated the translation of CS-23 into a generic UAV airworthiness standard for French defence force in 2004.
Seagle told the conference that “we are not creating any new laws of physics; we are not trying to figure out the menu for boiling the oceans. We are taking a standard that is already in existence and adopting it for unmanned air systems. It addresses conventionally powered unmanned air system in the weight category 150-20,000kg [330-44,000lb].”
The ratification process is expected to result in endorsement by NATO, but with some national reservations, he said.
“To date we have intentions to ratify with reservations from a lot of nations, but nothing negative that would preclude the document being ratified as a Stanag… A nation can ratify with reservations.”
The USA is itself likely to be one of those nations, Seagle said: “Even though we had an active part as part of the US delegation to this specialist [USAR] team, within the Department of Defense there are reservations that differ between the army and the navy and the air force and the marine corps. However, we have agreed at the DoD level to say we are going to ratify, but there will be some reservations.”
All reservations identified by alliance member countries will be considered as part of a final approvals meeting planned for Paris in mid-November. “It is a pretty aggressive schedule.”
The FINAS working group plans to follow the new airworthiness Stanag in the near term with a “D” document – standardised reference documents, but with an authority below Stanag level – on UAV see-and-avoid requirements.
“FINAS is addressing it in terms of closest point of approach; we are addressing target levels of safety, and independence of functionality of the system. In other words how the system must be able to address, in a non-segregated environment, that visual flight rule aircraft that is out there and presents itself as a passive target in a non-cooperative environment,” Seagle said.
“We are also addressing functionality in terms of operations capability in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) and instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Some of these, you will start to see a flavour where you are not just talking about a material solution, but you are also talking about procedural solutions in there as well, procedures dealing with VMC and IMC operations,” he added.
FINAS is planning to develop the see-and-avoid “D” document into a full Stanag in the medium term, Seagle said.
Other “D” documents in preparation will cover UAV air traffic management, system security, operator procedures guidance and operator training.
FINAS is one of four primary UAV working level bodies supported by NATO, with these co-ordinated through a single joint UAV group. FINAS was originally established under the auspices of the former NATO Working Group 7.