The New ACAS Xu MOPS DO-386: Key Takeaways

Very quietly this December, the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) published the new DO-386 standard.  However, for those of us serving up situational awareness for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), we are loudly celebrating this achievement. For the first time, DO-386 defines the Minimum Operational Performance Standards (MOPS) for unmanned aircraft flying with ACAS Xu, setting the stage for true detect and avoid (DAA) system development and deployment and integration of UAS in the NAS.

Sagetech sits on the two committees responsible for this landmark publication, the SC-147 ACAS committee and the SC-228 unmanned aerial vehicle committee. Rather than toss more acronyms your way, David Day, our Chief Compliance Officer, outlined these key takeaways to help the industry understand this truly historic event.

1.       First MOPS ever for ACAS Xu.

In addition to the traditional Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) Xa for manned aircraft, the industry created a few new ACAS classes for unmanned aircraft. ACAS Xu is specifically for UAS, and defined well by NASA:

“ACAS Xu is designed for UAS and allows for new surveillance technologies and tailored logic for platforms with different performance characteristics. In addition to Collision Avoidance (CA) alerting and guidance, ACAS Xu is being tuned to provide RWC (remain well clear) alerting and guidance in compliance with the SC 228 DAA MOPS. With a single logic performing both RWC and CA functions, ACAS Xu will provide industry with an integrated DAA solution that addresses many of the interoperability shortcomings of Phase I systems.” NASA Conference Paper, March 17, 2017.

DO-386 is the first standard to outline the base set of requirements for industry to use. For the first time, UAV OEMs and systems manufacturers, like Sagetech, have a roadmap of requirements for creating the next generation of FAA certifiable detect-and-avoid systems.

2.       What is special about ACAS Xu?

These MOPS define the parameters for detecting and avoiding collisions and include algorithms not only for ascend/descend avoidance maneuvers but also horizontal avoidance maneuvers due to the smaller size and slower speeds of unmanned aircraft.

From the RTCA website, here is the DO-386 MOPS official description:

Document Title:  DO-386 Vol I Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Airborne Collision Avoidance System Xu (ACAS Xu) (Vol I), and DO-386 Vol II Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Airborne Collision Avoidance System Xu (ACAS Xu) (Vol II: Algorithm Design)

Description: This set of documents define the minimum operational performance

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