Unmanned State Aircraft and Their Ability to Exercise Due Regard
57 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2014
Date Written: April 20, 2014
In December of 2013, the manufacturer of a sense and avoid system successfully demonstrated, for the first time, the ability of an unmanned aircraft equipped with “due regard radar” to fly in proximity to other aircraft. Because ever-increasing numbers of unmanned aircraft are utilized more frequently and in numerous new and novel ways, this paper asks: Can an unmanned aircraft actually operate with “due regard,” as the radar’s designation implies, and as that phrase is currently used in US and international rules governing manned flight? Addressing that question requires an examination of what “due regard” means operationally (to what aircraft it applies, when it is required, and how aircraft flying under this rule “behave.”) Determining which aircraft may operate under due regard proves to be more complex than one might anticipate. The paper therefore presents some approaches for resolving that “applicability” difficulty. After exploring those issues, and reviewing available public information regarding the capabilities of due regard radar, the paper concludes with an assessment that technology appears to be sufficiently advanced to enable properly equipped unmanned aircraft to exercise due regard, though non-technical barriers may delay the widespread implementation of that ability.
Note: This is a significantly expanded version of an article published in Issues in Aviation Law and Policy, Vol 13, Number 2 (Spring 2014): Unmanned Aircraft and the Exercise of Due Regard.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation