The Advanced Virtual Engineering and Test (AVET) Lab at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) is well-known for its virtual engineering, numerical modeling methods, and aircraft seat testing, but also boasts a unique capability in small unmanned aircraft (sUA) certification.
AVET researchers, engineers and technicians are partially responsible for the research that led to new guidance for operating sUA over people in the National Airspace. Section 8.5.2 of FAA Advisory Circular 107-2A states applicants for Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 107 may use an FAA-accepted Method of Certification (MOC) developed by a voluntary consensus standards body or other entity, or an FAA-accepted MOC developed independent of the FAA.
Specifically, ASTM F3389-20 meets this requirement. This certification model was partially based on research conducted at NIAR AVET through the FAA’s ASSURE Center of Excellence for UAS. The unique test is conducted using a launching device and anthropomorphic test dummy (ATD) set-up. NIAR AVET can conduct certification testing using ASTM F3389-20 sections 4.3 and 4.4 (methods B and C), and soon-to-be-approved Method D (section 4.5).
According to ASTM, method B uses an instrumented ATD head form and requires the applicant to conduct a series of impact tests using the sUA. Impacts are conducted at the most probable worst-case impact orientation, which is determined through a combination of engineering judgment and experiments. Method B is not appropriate for testing foam fixed-wing sUA due to the increased rigidity of the test setup.
Method C uses an instrumented ATD and requires impacts at multiple energies and three different impact angles. These test results can be compared to automotive injury risk metrics associated with 30 percent probability of an AIS 3 or greater injury or against defined injury metrics developed and used by the governing Civil Aviation Authority.
Method D uses an instrumented ATD head form and neck and requires the applicant to conduct a series of impact tests using the sUA and a rigid object. The test results of the sUA are compared with the results for rigid object at each orientation with the results of the head injury criterion (HIC15), Peak Acceleration, the Nij Neck Injury criterion, and neck compression being the acceptance metrics. The weight limit for these Methods is eight lbf for sUA and up to 55 lbf tested at parachute speeds for larger sUA.
An additional virtual method is also under review by ASTM. If approved, NIAR will be one of only a few places in the U.S. capable of conducing this certification test. For more information about sUA testing available at NIAR AVET, visit
The Advanced Virtual Engineering and Test lab at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research is a 22,000 square-foot facility dedicated to Virtual Engineering, Flight Simulation, Building Block and Crash Dynamics Labs. Some of its feature highlights include an Instron Hydropuls CSAadvanced sled, multiple client prep bays, workspace for 40+ virtual engineering staff, three collaboration rooms and secure areas for restricted projects.