Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
About Us
Completed Projects
Board Members & Meetings
Related Links
Contact Us
SSB Home

Assessing the Risks of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration

View the Report


Statement of Task

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will appoint an ad hoc committee with representation from industry, academia and government to undertake a study to evaluate the potential of probabilistic assessments of risks and other risk assessment methods for streamlining the process of integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace system (NAS) and identify supporting research and development opportunities in this field. The committee will execute the following tasks:

  • Consider recent, current, and planned FAA efforts to evaluate the risks associated with the integration of UAS into the national airspace system and risk assessment methods.
  • Consider mechanisms for assessing severity and likelihood metrics required for probabilistic and other appropriate risk assessment methods based on UAS design characteristics (e.g., weight, speed, materials, and technologies) and operational characteristics (e.g., airspace characteristics, population density, and whether they are piloted remotely or autonomously).
  • Determine how the scope and detail required of risk assessment methods may vary for different sizes and operations of UAS (e.g., Part 107 vs. Part 91 operations) and whether certain classes of UAS (micro, etc.) could be operated with the assumption they are inherently low risk.
  • Evaluate other methods that could reasonably be used to evaluate the risks of UAS integration in the NAS. What are the benefits and limitations of these alternate methods? How do these alternate methods compare to probabilistic risk assessment methods as well as severity and likelihood metrics traditionally used by the FAA for manned aircraft?
  • What state of the art assessment methods are currently in use by industry, academia, other agencies of the U.S. government, or other international civil aviation authorities that could benefit the FAA?
  • What are the key advancements or goals for performance-based expanded UAS operations in the NAS that can reasonably be achieved through the application of the recommended risk assessment methods in the short-term (1-5 years), mid-term (5-10 years) and the longer-term (10-20 years).
  • What are the key challenges or barriers that must be overcome to implement the recommended risk assessment methods in order to attain these key goals?
  • In light of ongoing research and likely advances in risk assessment methods by other organizations, what research and development projects related to risk assessment methods should be the highest priority for the FAA?
  • Are there other related recommendations to streamline FAA processes (not governed by regulation) that would either improve the effectiveness of risk assessment methods for integration of UAS into the national airspace system or expedite the development of such methods?

The committee may also comment on the effectiveness of risk assessment methods as they pertain to decision making and different modes of UAS operations. However, the committee will not recommend changes to regulations governing UAS operations, nor will the study recommend changes to the organization of the FAA. The scope of this study includes UAS certifications well as operational approval.
View more about this activity on our current projects website.

Committee Meetings

January  31-February 2, 2018
Washington, DC
View Agenda I View Presentations

December 13-15, 2017
Irvine, CA
View Agenda I View Presentations

September 26-28, 2017
Washington, DC
View Agenda I View Presentations

Committee Membership

View Bios

George T. Ligler, Chair
GTL Associates

Brian M. Argrow
University of Colorado Boulder

Stephen P. Cook
Northrop Grumman Corporation

Margaret T. Jenny
RTCA, Inc.

Andrew R. Lacher
The MITRE Corporation

Amy R. Pritchett
Pennsylvania State University

Agam N. Sinha
ANS Aviation International, LLC

Gregory Baecher
University of Maryland, College Park

Louis Anthony Cox Jr.
Cox Associates

Leticia Cuellar-Hengartner
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Karen B. Marais
Purdue University

Paul Mcduffee
Insitu, Inc.

Karen E. Willcox
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Craig A. Woolsey
Virginia Tech



Dwayne Day
Study Director

Alan Angleman
Study Director

Dionna Wise
Program Coordinator

Mia Brown
Research Associate


  Presentations which have been made available for posting will be added after the meeting date is complete.

September 26-28, 2017

Bill Cozier
Mike O'Donnell
Jeff Breunig
Ally Ferguson
Jonathan Hammer
David Arterburn
Wes Ryan
Glenn Rossi
Gerry Pilj
Firdu Bati


December 13-15, 2017

Available post meeting

January 31-February 2, 2017

Available post meeting