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October 20, 2023
MSCAA and FedEx Express UAS Strategic Projects Update
From March-October 2023, Memphis Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) and the FedEx Express UAS Strategic Projects team have continued to test new UAS systems, fly increasingly complex missions, and participate in community outreach programs to advance drone usage in the United States. The four specific missions assigned to MSCAA consist of Aircraft Inspections, Surveillance, Foreign Object and Debris Inspections and Parts Delivery.
Shown here is footage of a C17 arriving and a FedEx cargo jet departing at the Memphis International Airport (MEM) during a surveillance mission.
These activities included a test drone with its own base and climate control in order to be outside and ready to launch at a moments notice. First tested at the Agricenter International, one of the BEYOND program partners, the UAS team made sure it was a viable and safe fit for the airport environment before moving on the next level of testing at MEM.
Also involved in Community Outreach Projects, before moving the advanced surveillance system from the Agricenter to the MEM airport, the FedEx team hosted the local Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) during their camp week, with over 50 students ranging in age from 14-18, manned aircraft pilots from four airlines and FedEx/FAA ATC personnel who were supporting the week long camp activities. Current drone events, several drone types and UAS information was shared and many great questions asked.
Communications set up between the drone Operations, local law enforcement, FedEx, Airport Personnel, and the FAA which are a vital component of safely Operating at a busy airport environment proved to be in place and ran smoothly when a rogue drone was cited near the airport. All responding aviation agencies were able to determine it was not an approved flight and knew they needed to take appropriate safety measures.
On-ramp parts delivery systems continued to evolve and be evaluated as drone deliveries would be an additional tool for aircraft repairs. By using drones, the smaller repair parts would be able to reach the aircraft mechanics more swiftly and remove a vehicle from the busy ramp corridors.
Public safety is of utmost priority to the MSCAA and FedEx Express which is why there continues to be evaluations of new drone systems, and will be a key factor for anything conducted or chosen to be tested and used for the many missions conducted by drones. Approval for present interest and future use is partially achieved by demonstrating them to key stakeholders from both FedEx and MSCAA.
MSCAA UAS testing and evaluations will continue and regular updates will be provided.
March 20, 2023
MSCAA, FedEx continue drone operations through FAA’s BEYOND program
The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) and FedEx Express (FedEx) continue working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop safe procedures for drone operations within the perimeter of an FAA-towered airport as part of FAA’s BEYOND drone program. The overall objective of the MSCAA’s participation in the program is to establish common drone flight procedures, safety protocols and policy for the FAA to authorize regular drone operations at any airport in the United States National Airspace System.
Over the past few years, MSCAA and FedEx have introduced drone flight operations in Memphis as part of their participation in the FAA’s BEYOND program. To date, the team has flown approximately 2,000 successful drone flights.
The most recent drone flight operations took place over the FedEx ramp and near the southwest perimeter of Memphis International Airport’s airfield along Airways Boulevard. The goal of these operations was to detect foreign object debris (FOD) to enhance airfield safety and conduct security inspections along the airport perimeter fence line to supplement existing security systems and protocols. FedEx has also utilized drones to perform aircraft inspections. In addition, future operations include aircraft parts delivery.
Footage Along Airways and 18R/36L
Footage Along Tchulahoma and the eastern FedEx fence line
Delivery operation from FedEx parts warehouse to a FedEx Line Maintenance Shack
November 2, 2020
MSCAA joins new BEYOND federal drone program
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the three-year Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) successfully concluded on Oct. 25. Eight of the nine state, local and tribal governments that participated in the program – including Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) — have signed new agreements with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to tackle remaining UAS integration challenges.
“The three years of information gathered under the drone Integration Pilot Program will be applied to a new initiative called BEYOND, which will further advance the safe integration of drones into our national space,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
August 12, 2020
FedEx has been collaborating with the FAA and Memphis International Airport to safely test drone on-airport operations to help develop federal policies and procedures for the safe integration of drones in the airport environment. Learn more at http://ow.ly/eA5350AWT1e
February 13, 2020
Asylon joins Memphis drone program team
Asylon, a Philadelphia based security drone robotics company that designs, manufactures and integrates software and hardware, is the latest addition to the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority’s (MSCAA’s) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) team.
In its role with the Memphis UAS IPP, Asylon will work with FedEx Express and other participants to support perimeter surveillance of logistics warehouses, as well as foreign object debris (FOD) detection on the cargo ramp during day and night operations.
December 3, 2019
DJI joins Memphis partners in FAA drone pilot program
DJI, a global company specializing in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, has joined the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) at Memphis International Airport.
October 3, 2019
Blue Ribbon Task Force Releases Report on UAS Mitigation at Airports
For more info, see the following links:
April 30, 2019
UAS-IPP Program Participants to Conduct Drone Tests at Memphis in May
On May 5 and May 16, Memphis Fire Department, Memphis Police Department, 901Drones and FedEx will conduct drone flight tests at Tom Lee Park in support of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot (UAS-IPP) Program. Operations on both days will take place between 2 and 4 p.m. The operations will include manual flying during the Beale Street Music Festival and World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, though the drones will not fly over people during the mission.
March 19, 2019
Operations Update 3-19-19: Liberty Bowl ops successful at Memphis Express football game
On Saturday, March 2, Memphis UAS-IPP partners conducted several successful drone operations at the Liberty Bowl in conjunction with the Memphis Express football game. The Memphis Fire Department and Memphis Police Department piloted the drones, and operational and visual observer support was provided by FedEx Express and 901Drones. A total of 14 perimeter surveillance flights were conducted.
View videos here:
- Video of MFD M210 Takeoff taken from Phantom 4 Pro with stadium as backdrop
- Video of MPD H520 Takeoff taken from Phantom 4 Pro with stadium as backdrop
- Video of interior of stadium taken pre-game from MFD M210 over Launch area – approximately 400 feet from stadium and 300 feet AGL.
- Video of interior of stadium taken during game from MFD M210 over Waypoint #3.
February 28, 2019
Operations Update 2-28-19: UAS-IPP Program Participants to Conduct Drone Tests at Tiger Lane Saturday, March 2
On Saturday, March 2, 2019, Memphis Fire Department, Memphis Police Department, 901Drones and FedEx will conduct drone flight tests at Liberty Bowl Stadium in support of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot (UAS-IPP) Program. The operations will include manual flying near Tiger Lane, though the drones will not fly over people during the mission.
February 13, 2019
Airport and partners to host public meeting for drone pilot program on February 27
Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) and its partners in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) will host a public meeting on Wednesday, February 27. The meeting will take place at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn at 6 pm.
The meeting will feature presentations about the UAS-IPP program and a question and answer session with airport partners.
Since August, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) partners have conducted 43 successful drone flights as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP). The flights were part of the first phase of development in low risk areas to help develop operational procedures, assess potential impacts, develop airport and team member communication protocols, and determine the operational reliability of small drones that could be used on the Memphis International Airport (MEM) airfield.
The 43 flights represented 5.7 total flight hours. Thirty of the flights were related to security surveillance and 13 were related to aircraft inspection.
October 11, 2018
Operations Update 10-11-18:
UAS-IPP Program Participants to Conduct Drone Tests at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
On Thursday, October 11, 2018, the Memphis Fire Department and Memphis Police Department will conduct drone flight tests at the Liberty Bowl Stadium in support of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot (UAS-IPP) Program. The operations will include programmed and manual flying of the fence perimeter to support security inspections. These flights will help inform the development of operational safety procedures for these types of missions. Access to the areas where the flight tests will be conducted will be restricted during testing.
Successful drone demonstrations were conducted in September by Memphis International Airport partners participating in a new U.S. Department of Transportation drone program. The operations were conducted at Agricenter International and included simulated runway and perimeter security inspections, as well as safety and backup procedures for drone operations. The recent operations were coordinated by 901Drones and the Memphis Fire Department, and representatives from other partner organizations attended the demonstration.
For more information, please email MEMUAS@flymemphis.com.
In October 2018, President Donald Trump directed U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to launch an initiative to safely test and validate advanced operations for drones in partnership with state and local governments in ten jurisdictions. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program will be used to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace and to realize the benefits of unmanned technology in our economy.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program
On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) was selected by Secretary Chao to participate in the Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) as the lead agency. The goal of the UAS IPP is to conduct advanced drone operations in selected airspaces to generate data and knowledge for future UAS policymaking. The UAS IPP will be conducted over the next three years.
The proposal put forth by the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority is in partnership with the City of Memphis, Agricenter International, the University of Memphis, the Tennessee Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics, FedEx, GE subsidiaries AirXOS and Avitas, Intel, Flirtey, 901Drones, and ForeverReady Productions. This diverse team will conduct advanced drone operations, including beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS), operations over people (OOP), and operations at night, in a total of five airspaces, including urban and agricultural areas and secure areas closed to the public.
Additionally, the Airport Authority, City of Memphis and Shelby County Government plan to educate the local community about the operations that would take place in the Memphis metropolitan area under UAS IPP through three public meetings.
The MSCAA IPP’s prioritization will focus on aircraft inspections and security/perimeter surveillance. MSCAA and FedEx will collaborate with IPP partners to conduct advanced UAS operations at the Agricenter, located in Shelby County, and then deploy to operating in the airport environment.
- Aircraft Inspections: Inspection of commercial aircraft on FedEx ramp during day and night operations
- Airport Security Fence Inspections: Inspection of perimeter security fence and dispatched response for alarm resolution
- Security Patrols of FedEx Ramp: Security monitoring of FedEx ramp during day and night operations
- Perimeter Security Monitoring: Protecting logistics warehouses against intruders and fighting cargo theft
For more information, please email MEMUAS@flymemphis.com.