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NUAIR testing validates drone parachute for package- delivery firm Flytrex

By Eric Reinhardt

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The parachute on the package-delivery drones for Flytrex — an Israel–based drone company — has passed a test and meets the international standard specification for small drone parachutes. Syracuse–based NUAIR says it completed the testing at the drone test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome. NUAIR is short for Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research. (PHOTO CREDIT: NUAIR)

ROME — The parachute on the package-delivery drones for Flytrex — an Israel-based drone company — are now considered “validated as compliant with industry standards.” 

It follows testing that NUAIR completed at the drone test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome. NUAIR is short for Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR), a Syracuse–based nonprofit organization.

This announcement builds on a $30 million investment announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to develop the 50-mile UAS traffic management corridor between Syracuse and Griffiss Airport in Rome to advance the growing UAS (unmanned aircraft system) industry as part of the CNY Rising initiative, per a July 2 NUAIR news release.

Through these tests, NUAIR is providing the UAS industry with the data and standards testing “needed to unlock commercial operations.” 

This is the second parachute standard validation that NUAIR has performed, “advancing the potential for commercial drone package delivery and routine flights over people,” NUAIR said. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently prohibits pilots from flying most drones directly over people. Professional drone operators can apply for a waiver from that restriction if they can demonstrate they have “robust safety mitigations in place,” including having a validated parachute. 

“NUAIR’s testing at the New York UAS test site to validate the parachute on Flytrex’s package delivery drones is helping move this company and others toward commercial UAS activity that will build the drone industry and other industries in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley,” Howard Zemsky, president, CEO and commissioner of Empire State Development, said in the NUAIR release.

Safety “main priority”

NUAIR says Flytrex has already made “impactful strides” in safe drone integration as part of the FAA’s integration pilot program. The validation of the Flytrex parachute “makes even more advanced flights possible — ushering in a new era of on-demand delivery that breaks down industry limits and sets higher safety standards.” 

Flytrex’s testing of the DRS-M600 parachute under NUAIR supports Cuomo’s recent announcement of a New York–Israel partnership, including the creation of a UAS Center of Excellence in the Mohawk Valley that NUAIR will lead.

“When it comes to commercial drone operations, safety has to be a main priority,” Yariv Bash, CEO and co-founder of Flytrex, said in the NUAIR  release. “We chose to work with Drone Rescue Systems [DRS] not only because they are the experts when it comes to keeping drones safely above our heads, but also because we share the same vision of making commercial drones a viable option by upholding the highest safety standards. Our confidence in these tests is bolstered by NUAIR’s strong track record, having managed the testing of the world’s first certified parachute recovery system. NUAIR is at the forefront of safety regulation, and we’re pleased to be testing with an experienced and capable partner.”

DRS-M600 is a DRS product, per its website.

About the parachute, testing

Drone Rescue Systems’ M600 parachute is designed to reduce the risk of harming people on the ground, by bringing down equipment safely, in the event of a drone malfunction. Its “patented mechanism deploys a parachute within milliseconds” and only takes a few minutes to re-pack the system and relaunch the drone. 

The DRS-M600 is equipped with a traceable “black box” which stores flight data. In the event of a malfunction, investigators can recover and analyze the data to determine why the parachute was deployed.

NUAIR put Flytrex’s DRS-M600 equipped DJI Matrice 600 Pro through 45 functionality tests across five different failure scenarios. The tests were successful, meaning that the DRS-M600 complies with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) international standard specification for small UAS parachutes, opening the door for Flytrex to get a waiver to operate its drone over people. 

The FAA and other industry stakeholders developed the ASTM consensus standard in late 2018 after more than a year of work, NUAIR said. 

“NUAIR is proud to provide companies with this level of standards testing at the New York UAS test site,” Tony Basile, COO at NUAIR, said. “Such tests and partnerships support our mission to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. We look forward to continuing to validate industry leading technology, supporting the ever-growing commercial UAS industry.”         

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