Problems with the use of parachutes in drones according to the current spanish legislation
This article describes the existing problems to implement in a rightful way the use of parachutes in unmanned aerial vehicles according to the Spanish legislation.
Is more common to see all kinds of different modules being implemented in our drones, is something becoming normal, how could not be? Is obvious that drones offer flexibility and are design to work with multiples payloads and configurations. No?
We have to get used to stop seeing drones as toys and start seeing as the aircrafts they are. In a commercial plane every modification that alters the design and the aeronavegability must be certified by an authority. No one would get into a plane that has modifications that didn't get approved and certified by the authority.
With the UAS seems like the general perception is not the same, we like to add external elements like parachutes or lights to our drones without taking into consideration that any modifications that we do to the aircraft that alters its characterization has, at least, three consequences: first, to do a system integration turns us legally into the manufacturer of the new resultant system. In second term, we will need to do the flights profile and the test flights with the new system to validate it and see the correct execution. And third, we will have to create the new documentation required by the actual law for the new aircraft, meaning aircraft characterization, maintenance dossier, etc...
In systems above 25Kg, additionally, the aircraft will need to make the certifications needed to obtain a new aeronavegability certificated for the new system, as well as other certifications that can be required for the new system and subsystems.
Some of the possible consequences that we may suffer if we alter a unmanned aerial vehicle are the following:
- Aircraft with wrong characterization, expose us to a penalty fee from AESA.
- Use of a non commercial aircraft without justification of test flights or flight profiles.
- Manufacturer warranty voided due to alterations to the aircraft. The manufacturers cannot be responsible for added payloads that were not approved or tested in their facilities.
- Insurance coverage loss due to operations with an aircraft with non-declared modifications.
- Operation risk increase, turning a commercial UAV into a customized UAV non tested by the manufacturer.
- UAV abnormal behaviour in extreme environments, due to a modification of the aircraft capabilities.
- Abnormal battery behaviour, due to the extra power consumption derived from the modification.
- Sudden uplift loss in operations due to mass center displacement.
How is this even possible? The installation of a parachute counts as a risk mitigation, right?
Yes, it does. The parachute in drones is an element that reduces the impact energy of the drone (when deployed correctly, in a timely manner and it doesn't get stuck with the propellers) and is a risk mitigation factor. What people doesn't take into account how the parachute systems can provoke an alteration in the UAV aeronavegability. It could increase the risk of abnormal behaviours with the added weight in the UAV or crash the aircraft if installed incorrectly. There're some other systems being tested like airbags that the truth is that the use of the parachute is spreading.
Then, how can we enjoy a safe flight with parachutes or any other accessory for specific operations?
The answer is simple, is the manufacturer the one that must supply the system, make tests and obtain certifications, characterize the aircraft with all its components and comply with any additional requirement.
What if the manufacturer doens't have the accessory I need?
In that case you have three options:
- To make yourself the integration, assuming the role of UAS manufacturer and accomplishing all the tests and validations the legislation requires for the new aircraft to make non-experimental flights (commercial operations)
- Hire an engineering firm to make the integration on your drone and have them to pass all the tests and certifications to have the right documentation to operate.
- To look for a manufacturer which aircraft allow the integration of accesories or that makes a custom solution for your operation.
With all of this clear, the characterization of the aircraft done by the manufacturer including the parachute. This element becomes a true risk mitigation factor that can ease the approval of operations within the new set of operational scenarios provided by AESA like: Night operations, urban, restricted airspace or the combination of those. And ease the operations described by the future European law in the specific and certified category.
AIRK Drones, offers the robustness of a manufacturer with the flexibility of a system integrator. This unique propositions makes that custom solutions can rely in the maximum level of security and warranties that only a manufacturer can provide. Their vast aeronautical expertise and the high level of sophistication in the integration of different technologies makes AIRK the only manufacturer able to make your dreams fly in a safe way.