Find out more about our partnership collaboration with ASTM International through our interview with Phil Kenul, Chair of F38 UAS Committee. 

Welcome to GUTMAs ‘Ask the Expert’ interview which provides our members with insights on ASTM and the shared aims that this partnership holds in creating global standards and harmonisation.

Eszter Kovacs (EK), GUTMA’s Acting Secretary General secured the opportunity of this interview with Phil to get his take on the collaborative agreement between GUTMA and ASTM, and get an understanding on the current activities as well as the industry outlook.

EK: Phil, could you please share with us some information on your background and position at ASTM? 

I joined ASTM in 2011 and have a history of working in the aviation and aerospace industry covering government, emergency management, intelligence, and operational planning. I’m a retired Rear Admiral from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and have spent 30 years in the aviation and maritime domains with a focus on  remote sensing. Back in the 1990s NOAA targeted unmanned systems in both the air and on and under the water. 

After retiring I took up work developing unmanned aircraft standards with ASTM. The work in this area is far from boring as we are looking at key, and the most important foundational standards needed by the industry and regulators. The standards are an important fundamental requirement for emerging technologies and industry.The ASTM team is very excited at the challenge of getting everyone pulling in the same direction to support the development of the standards needed to move this industry forward. One of the key areas we see are standards supporting the development of traffic management of unmanned aircraft. 

Phil said: “The board at GUTMA are fully behind the UTM ecosystem of standards. It’s thanks to GUTMA members and all of their great work that we are able to create these universal standards, they are the ones doing the heavy lifting. GUTMA members are tremendously important to ASTM.” 

For ASTM, Remote ID and DSS are fundamental building blocks for standards going forward. Over the summer, we are working very carefully on finalizing performance requirements to create the standards to provide consistency in the industry.  This will enable  a universal approach that creates cohesive, harmonized, interoperable global standards.  GUTMA is helping in bringing industry partners together to achieve this and serves the community well.

EK: What are your views on the value of the GUTMA & ASTM Collaboration?

GUTMA as the umbrella organization for UTM sets the tone and direction in the industry as the go-to association. The name of the organisation says it all with Global being the focus.

Active engagement and interoperability are keysto ensuring there is no duplication of effort. ASTM members are looking forconsensus standards ensuring global harmonisation for this emerging industry and maturing technology, which is important for both new and established companies.This partnership between GUTMA and ASTM ensures that harmonized end product industry needs. 

Everything that ASTM is doing is to ensure interoperable standards and compatibility. That’s why we are always in communication with other organizations like ISO. We are working to ensure we can accommodate future compliance and regulatory requirements that these universal standards and protocols will need to be compatible with from the outset. With our partnership with GUTMA we have the right people working on the UTM standards, protocols and performance requirements.

EK: Why is it crucial that GUTMA members are involved & represented at ASTM meetings?

Collaboration and participation for all is key. Both start-ups and established companies need to get in on the ground floor of emerging technologies to support  establishing foundational elements for global standards.

There is a lot to be done as the industry is far from mature. The consensus standards are important and everyone with an interest in UTM has a part to play. Your members are the ones who really do have the knowledge, motivation and the ability to be quick and nimble without sacrificing risk as it’s always a safety-first approach.

ASTM is the world’s first standards development organization and provides an open platform which encourages active participation from players of all sizes to collaborate, have their say on voting and gain access to all of the aviation standards.  These standards will support UTM and advanced aviation mobility in the future as well. ASTM’s processes ensure every single member really does get a voice and is heard. ASTM also makes it extremely easy for organisations to get involved with an annual membership fee of $75, plus the first year has been free for GUTMA members. We have strong representation through our 450 members and growing base in F38.  

EK: What activities are underway at ASTM in relation to UTM?

On of the priorities has been the Remote ID standard (ASTM Standard F3411-19)  which the UTM working group has worked on as really the first UTM standard and was published last year. The UTM team is now focusing on the USS-USS communication standards which is being readied for ballot. ASTM also has a UTM weather working group to support SDSPs and have just kicked off another group for UTM surveillance. 

The Detect and Avoid (DAA) standard which can be considered one of the BVLOS enablers is being published at the moment which will be followed by DAA test methods. Plus, the FAA has also asked ASTM to work on durability and test methods which will address  a means of compliance for smaller aircraft certification in rural, suburban, and urban areas. One use case will be for those aircraft used for package delivery. 

ASTM Administrative Committee 478 (AC478) is creating a strategy that will focus standard development on the roadmap required for unrestricted beyond visual line of sight operations. This is no easy task and will be a step by step process.

We are also looking at Autonomy in Aviation and Operations through in Administrative Committee (AC377) with a mandate toexamine autonomy in all aspects of aviation, from small unmanned autonomous systems (drones), to general aviation aircraft, to the AAM/UAM space. The Committeejust published its first Technical Report, Autonomy Design and Operations in Aviation: Terminology and Requirements Framework.

With the GUTMA members, ASTM is tackling standards for the foundational standards for UTM architecture, which will take time as UTM is extremely complicated. They will get those foundations in place one step at a time, and then look to more advanced protocols, and always with the aim of achieving truly harmonised global standards.

EK: Can you share your thoughts on the key milestones for harmonisation?

Over the next 12 months ASTM will be prioritising requirements, protocols, pre-flight and in-flight negotiations, and developing API for data collection. We will also look at integrating manned aircraft, errors and airspace fairness rules and enforcement, as well as operational constraints and the situation around outages and misbehaving USSs. They will complete version one, then two and three, moving on to more advanced versions, as they will not stop at a single standard, especially since there is so much more to do through the ASTM and GUTMA partnership.

EK: What is next? 

For ASTM it is about industry negotiation, fairness, and prioritisation, all of which will have to be agreed upon. Plus, there are so many other standards to be considered around emergency categories and first responders, people, operations, maintenance, all of which have to be worked out. These discussions are now underway but we’re only just touching the surface. 

EK: What is your one message to the UTM community at this time is?

Don’t get discouraged, tough problems don’t get solved overnight, we have to go at this one step at a time. UTM and U-space are high priorities and  key areas to be addressed. The global standards that we are working towards for the industry will not be done in a vacuum, and all of this will be achieved through participation and collaboration. 

If you are GUTMA member, you can also listen to this interview in our podcast series  and if you want to find out more about Phil Kenul and his work here is his LinkedIn profile or you can visit ASTM’s website.

Feel free to contact us at GUTMA if you have any questions and please do visit our blog again soon for more upcoming interviews! 

Remember to follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter and sign up to our newsletter here to be the first to hear the latest GUTMA news and updates.