CONOPS and autonomy recommendations for VTOL small unmanned aerial system based on Hurricane Katrina operations Academic Article uri icon


  • This field study examines vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) small unmanned aerial system (SUAS) operations conducted as part of an 8-day structural inspection task following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. From the observations of the 32 flights spread over 12 missions, four key findings are identified for concept of operations (CONOPS) and the next level of artificial intelligence for rotary-wing SUASs operating in cluttered urban environments. These findings are (1) the minimum useful standoff distance from inspected structures is 2-5 m, (2) omnidirectional sensor capabilities are needed for obstacle avoidance, (3) global positioning system waypoint navigation is unnecessary, and (4) these operations require three operators for one SUAS. Based on the findings and other observations, a crewing organization and flight operations protocol for SUASs are proposed. Needed directions in research and development are also discussed. These recommendations are expected to contribute to the design of platforms, sensors, and artificial intelligence as well as facilitate the acceptance of SUASs in the workplace. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

author list (cited authors)

  • Pratt, K. S., Murphy, R., Stover, S., & Griffin, C.

citation count

  • 44

publication date

  • August 2009