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 May 2007
Tech News

New Standard Helps Catapult Unmanned Aircraft Forward

When ASTM International Committee F38 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems was formed in 2003, it is safe to say no one on the committee was thinking about catapults and trebuchets. However, a study of these medieval devices was integral to the development of a new F38 standard, F 2585, Specification for Design and Performance of Pneumatic-Hydraulic Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Launch System. F 2585 is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F38.01 on Airworthiness.

According to Ryan Schaefer, a member of F38 who worked on F 2585, the committee performed a gap analysis to identify topics where standards were lacking for UAS. “We were surprised to discover that nothing in the literature covers the modern pneumatic and hydraulic versions of medieval devices such as catapults that are commonly used to launch unmanned aircraft.”

In order to write the standard, Schaefer and the task group researched catapults by speaking with experts at catapult manufacturers. This research provided valuable insight that added much to the development of the standard.

F 2585 covers the design and performance of UAS launch systems that operate through a closed-loop pressurized hydraulic or pneumatic system with a hydraulic recovery, or both. To illustrate the gap the standard has filled, Schaefer notes that F 2585 was approved in November 2006 and during the same month it was adopted by the U.S. Department of Defense, which uses nearly 100 catapult-type launching systems for a variety of unmanned aircraft systems.


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