Research and Development Activities
I am the founder and owner of TrueNorth Consulting LLC, a UAS support and service organization founded in 2009. I was Adjunct Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law from 2015-2018 where I developed and delivered the first drone law course in an American law school. Previously, I was employed as Division Manager, UAS Regulations & Standards Development, with the Physical Science Laboratory, New Mexico State University from 2010 through 2014, where I was responsible for and participated in a number of UAS-related research grants and contracts. For the prior twelve years I was a professor of aviation at the University of North Dakota, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. Beginning in 2005 at UND I was instrumental in the creation and management of the school’s research and development program focused on the emerging technology of unmanned aircraft systems. As a part of that collaborative effort involving other colleges and departments at UND, as well as multiple partners in federal and state government and in the private sector, I was Principal Investigator on several FAA-funded research grants and contracts involving unmanned aircraft regulations and standards, and also served as PI and contract administrator for research contracts partnering with the United States Air Force, the Air Force Research Lab, and the Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection. Along with these many overlapping UAS-related projects I also served as the Ground Safety lead for NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory while the aircraft was bedded down and maintained at Grand Forks Air Force Base. These duties included serving on the mission planning team for various NASA airborne science missions, and sitting on the Flight Readiness Review Boards for two DC-8 missions. While at NMSU, I was PI on a NASA UAS night vision study that was conducted in the Jornada Range of Southern New Mexico in partnership with AeroVironment and also served on the ground safety team for DARPA’s Vulture Air Vehicle Program, which was an exploratory development program intended to explore the potential for placing a hydrogen fuel cell powered UAS in Class A airspace to function like a satellite.
While employed at the University of North Dakota I was the PI and contract point of contact for a US Air Force Research Lab project focused on the Air Force’s Predator pilot training program. The scope of the study included a detailed analysis of the training syllabus and the operational characteristics of the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator UAS, particularly the issue of negative transference of traditional pilot skills to the challenge of operating a highly sophisticated remotely piloted aircraft.
Also at UND I was the team lead on a science project involving the operation of the Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle™ on the Beaufort Sea off of the North Slope of Alaska tracking the movement of large marine mammals and sea ice in support of fossil fuel exploration in that region. I prepared, negotiated and was the point of contact for the first civil Certificate of Authorization and Waiver issued by the FAA in support of the Beaufort Sea operation and the US Navy’s Boardman range in Arlington, Oregon, where Insitu flight tested the ScanEagle™. I was also the preparer and POC for 21 COAs in North Dakota that allowed small UAS science and research operations in non-segregated airspace, also a first for the FAA.
I have been engaged full time on UAS-related activities, including research, standards development and advising commercial clients and public entities around the country in obtaining waivers and permissions for UAS operations for over 15 years. I am the co-editor of five books related to aviation, one devoted to unmanned aircraft now in its third edition, another discussing UAS airspace integration, and am the author of numerous published articles on aviation law, regulations, and remotely piloted aircraft. I’ve served on RTCA SC-203, ASTM F-38, and SAE G-10 Committees; the ISO TC20 SC16 UAS Working Group; the AUVSI Advocacy Committee; the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program UAS Expert Group; the Small UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (the first FAA ARC addressing unmanned aircraft); the Micro UAS Rulemaking Committee; and the Part 91 Working Group supporting a subsequent UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee, among many other UAS-focused committee. I chaired the ASTM F38.02.01 Task Group on Standards for UAS Operations Over People, and was a member of the Steering Committee, Civil Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems Conference, Boulder, Colorado, and several other committees dedicated to the development of UAS, and have delivered presentations on international aviation regulations and airspace issues at symposia and conferences around the world.
I have advised numerous public and private entities around the world in their efforts to obtain permissions and authorizations from the FAA to conduct domestic UAS operations, sat on the advisory board of a major UAS service company, and have served as a subject matter expert on UAS related topics for the government of Denmark and several states in the U.S. Among other consulting successes were public aircraft operations authorizations granted to law enforcement agencies and other public entities, including states, local governments and academic institutions.
Current activities include serving as a subject matter expert for the government of Denmark via its Innovation Fund Denmark program, wherein I review 2-4 grant proposals per year that are seeking government funding for UAS-related research projects. Since 2005, when I first got involved in UAS-related research and advisement, I have successfully processed over 25 Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs), both civil/commercial and public aircraft operations, served as a course leader and lecturer for the Airborne Law Enforcement Association for 7 years, co-edited and authored three editions of “Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” and developed and taught the first drone law course offered by an American law school (DePaul University School of Law). And I own and occasionally operate a small UAS.