Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Systems Engineering


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

David R. Jacques, PhD.


Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have increasingly been used in military application. The application in expanding scope of operations has pushed existing small UAS beyond its designed capabilities. This resulted in frequent modifications or new designs. A common requirement in modification or new design of small UAS is to operate beyond visual Line-Of-Sight (LOS) of the ground pilot. Conventional military development for small UAS adopts a design and built approach. Modification of small Remote Control (RC) aircraft, using Commercial-Off-The Shelf (COTS) equipment, offers a more economical alternative with the prospect of shorter development time compared to conventional approach. This research seeks to establish and demonstrate an architecture framework and design a prototype small UAS for operation beyond visual LOS. The aim is to achieve an effective and reliable development approach that is relevant to the military’s evolving requirements for small UASs. Key elements of the architecture include Failure Mode Effect and Criticality Analysis (FMECA), fail safe design for loss of control or communication, power management, interface definition, and configuration control to support varying onboard payloads. Flight test was conducted which successfully demonstrated a control handoff between local and remote Ground Station (GS) for beyond visual LOS operation.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number