117

That's a good question, and brings up a joke that many pilots know well: "What's going to be in the cockpit of the future?" "A dog and a pilot." "A dog? Why a dog?" "Well, the dog is there to keep the pilot from touching anything." "Ummm, why have the pilot then?" "Well, someone has to feed the dog! " Technology has improved to ...


108

The whale-shaped forward fuselage covers a parabolic antenna for a high-bandwidth datalink. The operators want to receive the reconnaissance data in real time, and by giving the antenna the best place in the aircraft, it will be able to connect to communications satellites even when they are just above the horizon. Global Hawk cut-away drawing (picture ...


49

The biggest reason UAVs look like they do is because they don't need to carry a human, or the life support and avionics displays that human would need. The designs, therefore, are built around what the aircraft does need, mainly communications and viewing/recon equipment in addition to the standard stuff any combat aircraft needs (fuel, weapons, propulsion, ...


39

CNN has applied for and received multiple waivers for 14 CFR § 107.39 Operation over human beings as allowed by § 107.205 List of regulations subject to waiver. Issued August 29, 2016 — This allows "Small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) operations over human beings in accordance with the CNN UAS Operations Manual, Fotokite Pro 1 Operator Guide, and ...


38

To play devil's advocate, there were two illustrative examples in 2009: US Airways Flight 1549 was safely landed on the Hudson, a feat that the autopilot could not have handled; but Air France Flight 447's autopilot handed control back to the pilots, and their incorrect reactions contributed to the loss of everyone on board. The idea of the pilot "up front ...


32

An article from 2001, TESTING SPY PLANES GRAY BUTTE AIRFIELD TO BE REOPENED says, General Atomics, which makes the Predator in San Diego, has been conducting final production tests and checkout flights at El Mirage, three miles inside the San Bernardino County line. See also EL MIRAGE FLIGHT TEST FACILITY


26

There are multiple ways to fly and control Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or drones, for e.g. the Predator. Source: science.howstuffworks.com Some UAVs (like the Global Hawk) can perform the entire mission (from takeoff to landing) autonomously, negating the need for a pilot. Most of the UAVs, like Predator can perform (i.e. fly in) some simple missions (...


26

Who says they are weird shaped? Maybe the 172 is weird... The short answer is that it's the best design for the mission and the specific application. The 172 is designed to carry people and train young pilots so its characteristics reflect being a good fit of that mission. Drones are required to carry computers and surveillance equipment and often a ...


26

If: Your unmanned aircraft weighs between 250g and 25kg (including fuel and cargo), You are not flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, also known as section 336 You intend to operate it outdoors, and You are operating it in the United States, you need to register your drone through the FAA's online registration system. If your drone is heavier ...


24

The absolute minimum for a generalized vehicle that needs to know its position and attitude (orientation) in space is one per degree of freedom. This can be reduced if we have information about the natural modes of the system and their stability. For simplicity, let's assume a vehicle moving in 3 dimensions, that means a total of 6 DoF: 3 coordinates in ...


23

They look like spoilers but are more precisely called drag rudders. They are not meant to reduce lift like regular spoilers, but increase drag in order to create a yawing moment. Regular aircraft have a vertical tail for yaw control. Without this, you need some force acting at a lateral distance from the center of gravity for yaw control, and this is what ...


22

Special permissions can be granted for platforms with sufficient redundancy. For example, if you have 4 props and one fails you'll crash. But if you have eight (in the correct pattern) and one fails, you can abort the mission and land safely with minimal increased risk to those on the ground. Same applies to batteries, autopilots, GNSS receivers, etc - if ...


22

Here's a photo: Retired Lt. Col. Thomas Mudge, a ground controller for the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, remotely pilots a QF-4 during a Combat Archer mission May 12, 2015 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. QF-4s were retired in 2016. They are now flying the QF-16.


20

The tail arrangement was initially chosen to protect the propeller from touching the ground first. The configuration of what later became the Predator was initially designed to be launched from a submarine, so it needed to fit into a torpedo tube when folded. When this configuration was scaled up, the general arrangement was kept. Now the tail surfaces are ...


19

The three most important factors in passenger air travel are safety, safety & safety. So that is where most of the questions will focus on, and where most of the engineering effort will be put into. Couple of questions: Artificial stability: what happens if the stability circuit breaks down? What happens if one of the motors fails, for instance one of ...


17

ChrisW's answer covers "why the Predator?" (El Mirage Field is used by General Atomics for test-flying their drones), which makes "Why the Cessna?" easy to answer: if General Atomics is test-flying a Predator drone or variant, the Cessna is probably there as a chase plane to monitor the test.


16

General usage According to Etymology Online The term drone, meaning "pilotless aircraft" dates from 1946. It evidently encompasses all types of aircraft where no onboard human pilot is needed, either because the human pilot operates the aircraft remotely (still true for most types of military "drone" aircraft I believe) or because the aircraft systems are ...


16

The existing answers are, of course, correct that most current UAVs do not have much in the way of options for defending themselves against attacks by fighters. This, however, is due primarily to the design missions of most current UAVs, which are reconnaissance and attacking lightly-defended ground targets. Their mission is literally to be an expendable ...


15

The most likely explanation is that CNN has a waiver from the FAA for certain operations. A waiver is a limited permission to deviate from the regulations and they're very common. In fact, for some operations they're required. CNN is most likely operating drones under part 107. Within that part, 107.205 lists the regulations that can be waived and flight ...


15

It's probably possible with only the GPS receiver, but it wouldn't be easy and you might have to make some compromises on the airframe design to achieve the necessary passive stability. The traditional set of sensors for this kind of application are, roughly in order of priority: GPS 3-axis rate gyro 3-axis accelerometer 3-axis magnetometer pitot alpha ...


14

In addition to Lnafziger's excellent post which focuses on the advantages of a human in the cockpit, I will focus on the relation between recent developments and the fact that there are still pilots in the cockpit. In commercial aviation, technological changes take a very long time before they are widely adopted. Especially if they require complex changes to ...


14

If the controlling software allows it then yes. There's at least one drone available where autonomous flight is possible; the Vision 2 FAQ says that the drone will continue its "mission" even if you lose the signal to it, although the overall length of the flight path is limited to 5km and the drone will not fly close to airports. Other drones stop and hover ...


14

The boundaries are defined more precisely than the chart can show. What you see on the chart is a visual representation of the text published in JO 7400.9Z (or the most recent version of it): AWP AZ C Tucson, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ Tucson, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (lat. 32°09'59"N., long. 110°52'59"W.) Tucson International Airport, AZ (lat. 32°06'58"...


13

The legal issues are covered in another question. The FAA doesn't currently regulate recreational model aircraft operations, which includes quadcopters. Were you to actually fly it over the fence, you could be charged with trespassing. If you had any intent to cause harm, other charges might apply (up to attempted murder if you were trying to bring down an ...


13

There is a numerical study on the topic at VirginiaTech, where they simulated a 5kg drone being ingested by a turbofan, some pictures related to the study below: On the same Aerospace America Article it can be read that: FAA will begin testing of drone ingestion next year The metric for danger is the density of the material, so metallic parts are more ...


13

Not only is it possible to hack a UAV, but it has already happened. In December 2011 a US RQ-170 recon drone landed in Iran after being hijacked by Iran's security services, possibly with Russian help. This was as much poor security implementation on the drone as clever hacking on the part of Iran. As for whether it would be possible to take over an armed ...


13

The reason not many drones use ducted fans is efficiency. Ducted fans are great for fast forward flight but not for static lift. Explanation: Yes, the 'duct' reduces losses at the blade tips, However, adds significant losses at the intake lip and exit where the adjacent air is pulled into the flow. For ducted fans installed in aircraft, These losses are ...


13

Lockheed Martin Sabre Warrior UCAV (concept): Source Source From Defence Forum India: The Sabre Warrior drone is 46 feet long, with a 36-foot wingspan, capable of taking off with 30,000 pounds of load using a 22,000-pound trust afterburning turbofan engine. It has two modular payload sections, which can be changed by soldiers in the field. Each ...


13

Due to center of gravity limitations, it would be impossible for any type of aircraft to be loaded so that the front became the heaviest part. The aircraft would not be able to fly. These UAVs are meant to crash land and DO land on the front propellor. You can do a Google search and see multiple videos showing the “break apart” landings they are designed to ...


12

Can a UAV defend itself? There were attempts to install defense systems on drones but such weapons have not proved effective, at least up to Nov. 2012 (see the article below). "In 2002 the Air Force fitted some of its early-model Predator drones with short-range Stinger air-to-air missiles. But even with the right weaponry the robots were likely a poor ...


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