New Standard Supports Parachutes for Drones

A new ASTM International standard aims to help meet the need for parachute recovery systems to increase safety when operating small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), commonly known as drones.

The new standard provides a path of requirements for testing and validation documentation for a parachute recovery system (PRS).  According to members of the ASTM International UAS committee (F38), this could help a drone operator seek approval from a civil aviation authority to fly small drones over people.

Specifically, the standard defines the design, fabrication, and test requirements of installable, deployable PRS integrated into a drone to lessen the impact energy of the system should it fail to sustain normal, stable, safe flight. The standard applies to multi-rotor, single-rotor, hybrid, vertical takeoff/landing (VTOL), or fixed-wing drones.

The standard will soon be published as F3322.

According to ASTM International member Alan Erickson, CTO, Indemnis, Inc. and the technical contact on the committee, the new standard creates a framework for the entity that integrates the parachute components, the drone itself, and the testing of the entire system. This entity can be the PRS manufacturer, the drone manufacturer, or the person trying to get permission from a civil aviation authority to fly a drone over people.

“The standard includes a rigorous design and testing matrix due to the simple fact that a PRS may be the only failsafe in a critical system failure,” says Erickson. “When applied correctly, a PRS will enable industry growth in a way that provides civil aviation authorities and civilian populations with a high level of confidence in sUAS.”

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