Standards Support Drone Operations and Airspace Management

Insiders recognize that drone technology – and the collateral technology surrounding it – is extending to every corner of the globe.
ANRA Technologies Inc.

Drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), have gained visibility as an innovative solution to improve efficiency and productivity for a variety of industries. They are the new frontier, offering creative ways to decrease costs and workload while inspecting infrastructure, improving accuracy, and resolving security issues. It hasn’t taken long for UAS to become a vital element of business and the operations of governmental organizations, filling gaps in services and operations – or improving safety by preventing a human from being exposed to unsafe conditions. The burgeoning industry runs a vast gamut, from drone package deliveries to personal use to military use to medical missions and beyond. The uses of drone technology are infinite, and the industry is just getting started.

Insiders recognize that drone technology – and the collateral technology surrounding it – is extending to every corner of the globe, as more industries consider how they can increase profits and efficiency. With this expansion comes a need for clearly defined standards, to which all UAS must adhere no matter where on earth they are conducting flight operations. ANRA Technologies sees the significance and urgency of ASTM International standards in this area and is an active proponent of embedding them in operations. A leading international provider of end-to-end drone operations and traffic management solutions for UAS operators and airspace managers, ANRA offers intelligent and modular traffic-management software capabilities for UAS traffic management (UTM) and urban air mobility (UAM) operations. 

In many ways, the industry is still in its infancy, and ANRA is actively engaged in supporting the development of ASTM standards. The organization participated in crafting the standard specification for remote ID and tracking (F3411). Remote ID allows governmental and civil identification of drones for safety, security, and compliance purposes. The objective is to increase remote pilot accountability by removing anonymity while preserving operational privacy for pilots, businesses, and customers. Remote ID is an enabler of enhanced operations such as beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations as well as operations over people. ANRA staff believe this endeavor to be a valuable use of their resources, as the industry will benefit from the new standard.

In addition, as a member of the committee on unmanned aircraft systems (F38), Amit Ganjoo, ANRA’s CEO, co-chairs the working group that led to the development of the specification for UAS traffic management (UTM) UAS service supplier (USS) interoperability (F3548). UTM is a “traffic management” ecosystem to help ensure UAS do not collide with buildings, larger aircraft, or one another. This is the world’s first UAS interoperability standard, intended to be a global specification providing components that may be used to satisfy requirements expected to be common to many UTM-related regulations. This version is focused on strategic aspects of UAS operations, including strategic conflict detection, aggregate conformance of operations to their operational intents, constraint awareness, and situational awareness in the event of nonconforming or contingent operations. The intention is that this specification will evolve to address increasingly complex strategic aspects of UAS operations and potentially certain tactical aspects of UAS operations.

ANRA chose to invest in this effort as they believe standards will play a key role in the scaling and development of the nascent drone industry. UTM development will ultimately identify services, roles and responsibilities, information architecture, data-exchange protocols, software functions, infrastructure, and performance requirements for enabling the management of drone operations. UTM will help clear a path for operating BVLOS of the drone pilot, unlocking the vast potential for these flying machines. Without the availability of technical standards, global interoperability is impossible, which will hurt the industry in the long run. ANRA’s participation had a dual purpose: to advance the company’s business dealings and to better standardize the growing industry. 

ANRA leverages ASTM standards, specifically those developed by the subcommittee on flight operations (F38.02). F3548 is implemented for airspace and mission-management products. Aviation is a heavily regulated industry and often, civil authorities point to standards as an acceptable means of compliance. A regulator may choose to require that a technology company support a minimum or prescribed set of roles and services defined by these new standards in providing UTM-like capability. This helps the regulator and industry align for product development and innovation, as the uses for drones (and as a consequence, the uses for ANRA Technologies’ services) expand.

Furthermore, ANRA’s visibility as a world leader in drone technology has expanded due to their adherence to global standards. It’s a selling point, offering potential clients from a wide range of industries and governments peace of mind that ANRA will operate by ASTM standards. For example, F3548 accommodates the differing regional requirements through a superset approach, using a variety of techniques such
as optional features and features that are configured to support a particular regulatory ruleset. As such, ANRA references their compliance to ASTM global standards as a feature, which helps in some markets that have adopted these standards. However, there is a growing universal acceptance of the standards ANRA is using and growing awareness of the utility of standards and their influence on regulations and technology development.

Over the past few years, ANRA has been working on collaborative UTM research and deployments with regulators and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) such as the FAA, Airport Authority of India, Swiss FOCA, and the UK’s Department of Transport (DFT), along with industry partners. This rich history of collaboration and testing has pushed ANRA to the industry forefront, ultimately becoming one of the leading voices of UTM technology providers.

ANRA Technologies is proud to stand at the forefront of its industry and sees the value of helping to craft standards and adhering to said standards. In an industry that offers infinite possibilities, it is crucial to set global practice standards as close to the ground floor as possible. ■

Company Snapshot

  • Company headquarters: ANRA Technologies Inc., Reston, VA
  • Description: ANRA Technologies, with offices in London, New Delhi, Washington DC, and Tartu, is an international provider of airspace management solutions for uncrewed aircraft operators and airspace managers. 
  • Number of staff: 45
  • Number of staff who are ASTM members: 5
  • Trading area: Global
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