Robotic Skies Completes First Field Installation of Garmin® GDL® 84 ADS-B Solution into an Unmanned Aircraft

June 2015

Robotic Skies has completed the first field installation of a Garmin GDL 84 Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) datalink solution into an unmanned platform. Garmin dealer Kings Avionics, Inc., of Henderson, Nevada, a full service Part 145 repair facility and Robotic Skies’ founding partner, performed the installation. The GDL 84 was installed into an Unmanned Systems Incorporated (USI) SandstormTM aircraft that is currently engaged in airspace integration testing in Nevada, and operates under an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate.

The GDL 84 is a straightforward solution for aircraft owners who do not already have a compatible WAAS GPS position source on board their aircraft thanks to its built-in WAAS GPS receiver. The GDL 84 is an all-inclusive solution, which meets regulatory requirements and the benefits of ADS-B without the cost associated with a large installation.

“As the ADS-B market leader, we’re thrilled to work with Robotic Skies to expand our portfolio of solutions to now encompass an unmanned aircraft platform,” said Carl Wolf, vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “The GDL 84 brings this UAV installation a straightforward and integrated solution to exceed the needs of their aerial operations, further demonstrating the versatility of a Garmin Vantage ADS-B solution.”


“We were looking for an ADS-B solution that would meet a wide range of system integration and performance requirements, and the Garmin GDL 84 fit the bill perfectly,” said Don Bintz, president of USI. “Robotic Skies technicians performed the installation and integration of the unit, and also assisted with design engineering issues related to onboard power management to accommodate the additional avionics.”

USI’s Sandstorm™ is a fixed wing vehicle with a 15-foot wingspan, and available in either gas or electric configurations. Remotely piloted via USI’s proprietary LongshotTM Internet control technology, the Sandstorm can be flown from ground control stations (GCS) that are hundreds, or even thousands of miles from the aircraft’s actual location.

Last September, USI announced that it had selected Robotic Skies to maintain its commercial fleet in the field. Now at over 65 service center locations throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and South Africa, Robotic Skies service centers are optimized to provide certification, maintenance and repair for the emerging commercial unmanned aircraft fleet. Drawing on only the best FAA Part 145 and air-agency approved maintenance organizations that currently maintain the manned aviation fleet, Robotic Skies offers comprehensive turnkey field service programs designed to keep high performance UAS flying safely.

“Robotic Skies, through its partner Kings Avionics, is proud to have completed the first field installation of a GDL 84 into an unmanned aircraft system,” said Brad Hayden, president and CEO of Robotic Skies. “As more unmanned airframes take to the skies, we’ll see more of the legacy aviation companies provide services to this emerging market segment. Robotic Skies has every intention of leading the industry into new and exciting certification, installation, and maintenance opportunities in the unmanned space.”



Titus Aviation Symposium Brings Top Minds Together On UAS Integration

June 2015

Las Vegas — Rep. Dina Titus held her first Titus Aviation Symposium today here in her district, where speakers and panelists addressed the many challenges facing the aviation industry, including the integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace.

Unmanned Aviation Panel L-R – Brian Wynne, President & CEO of AUVSI; Patrick Stoliker, deputy director of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center; George Guerra, VP Northrop Grumman; Rep. Dina Titus; FAA Administrator Michael Huerta; Brad Hayden, President & CEO of Robotic SKies; Reza Karamooz, President NVBAA; not pictured, Tom Hallman, President, PictorVision

“This is kind of the future of the industry, and I think Nevada has a role to play a part of that story,” she said.

She fought to get the state one of the six UAS test sites selected by the Federal Aviation Administration, a point keynote speaker FAA Administrator Michael Huerta noted.

“She called me about it on more than one occasion,” he said.

Huerta said the agency is currently gearing up for the next FAA reauthorization bill, which will need to be passed by Sept. 30, 2015. The last reauthorization was extended by Congress 23 times and took four and half years to finish.

“We can certainly do better than that, and we must,” he said.

Huerta discussed the FAA’s efforts to put out a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems integration, for platforms weighing 55 pounds or less. His team is working through the 4,500 comments submitted to the draft version of the rule and said the FAA would take a risk-based approach that lets the organization respond to user demand while maintaining its priority to safety.

He addressed the unique ability of Nevada’s UAS test site to play a role in the roadmap of rolling out UAS. It is the only of the six test sites that can grant an airworthiness certificate for experimental aircraft.

“Effectively, they act as us in granting that certificate,” he said.

Huerta announced the FAA plans to hold a public meeting in Nevada later this year to discuss how to create more opportunities for the test sites, an issue addressed during a panel discussion on UAS led later that day by AUVSI President and CEO Brian Wynne. The panel included experts from industry and NASA.

Attendee Bruce Tarbert, from the Nevada UAS Test Site Program Management Office, expressed frustration to the panel that the exemptions the FAA is giving to small UAS operators, who are seeking business opportunities currently not allowed otherwise, have wider operational authorizations than the test sites. He also said many private companies are unwilling to hand their aircraft over to a federal entity for testing.

“I really can’t understand how a railroad has better qualifications than any of the six test sites to conduct beyond-line-of-sight R&D efforts. It doesn’t make sense to me,” he said, taking a jab at the FAA’s Pathfinder Program, which recently tapped BNSF Railway.

Wynne discussed the opportunities the industry has to address issues like Tarbert’s and also deal with regulatory issues and the myriad other factors hampering UAS integration.

Brad Hayden, of Robotic Skies, an aviation repair company, said the line between hobbyists and commercial operators is bound to get further defined, especially by the price of platforms but also but the need for insurance.

“What’s driving our business more than regulations … we’re adding value, and what’s happening is the insurance companies are coming to us saying we need to get these things inspected. We need to put these on a plan, or we’re just not gong to insure them,” he said.

Tom Hallman, from PictorVision, which has a Section 333 exemption to use UAS in filmmaking, said the word is getting out about legal versus illegal commercial flight operations. He said that a large company recently selected PictorVision after dropping a different production company because the moviemakers realized the original company was not authorized to fly.

“What we’re really after is we already have a great culture of innovation, and we know that will continue to drive forward,” Wynne said. “What we really want is a culture of safety and a culture of compliance.”

Reprinted from AUVSI News