Unmanned Systems Technology 025 | iXblue DriX I Maintenance I UGVs I IDEX 2019 I Planck Aero Shearwater I Sky Power hybrid system I Delph Dynamics RH4 I GCSs I StreetDrone Twizy I Oceanology Americas 2019

34 T he ways in which UAS maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) providers and technicians develop their routines and practices for servicing UAVs these days can be seen as being driven by two main forces. The first stems from the expectation of conformity between unmanned aircraft maintenance practices and those in manned aviation. Given the number of manned aircraft flying through the skies, the number of accidents is extremely low. Much of that comes from having a common series of checks and procedures that maintenance technicians under FAA, CAA and other aviation regulators can follow to ensure a vehicle’s airworthiness before it can take flight. At the same time, however, a second force is driving a less regular, more condition-based approach to unmanned systems maintenance. The growth in the amount of data gathered by performance monitoring systems and other onboard data loggers allows trends or changes in system behaviour to be identified more easily now. Preventive versus predictive Naturally, most actors and stakeholders in unmanned industries want to see a similarly low level of accidents among UAVs, so they are looking to emulate manned aviation MRO practices. Also, many UAV maintenance providers are former manned aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs) and aircraft and power plant (A&P) repair personnel, who naturally want to see maintenance frameworks develop in ways they have found to be successful. That has led to a proliferation over the past few years of large networks of maintenance depots and repair stations, with in-house checklists and expertise for examining UAVs, whether they be fixed- wing, rotary, military or commercial. Their checks, services and recommendations are based on hours flown or operated, similar to manned aviation AMTs. They are not required by regulation to do so (unlike manned A&P engineers and AMTs) but they understand that regular maintenance is critical to reducing the chances of subsystems failing in mid-flight. Alternatively, algorithms designed The services offered by maintenance providers look set to evolve in parallel with the capabilities of UAVs. Rory Jackson reports Fault lines April/May 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology Maintenance practices for UAVs are being shaped by existing regulations and practices for servicing manned aircraft (Courtesy of Robotic Skies)