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Southern England UK test site to host trials of unmanned drone traffic management system

Goodwood is best known around the world for ‘glorious’ horse racing and vintage sports car races, but the lesser-known aerodrome is now in the limelight for hosting the first UK flight trials to combine unmanned drones with regular manned air traffic, reports aerospacetestinginternational.com.

These trials are to be carried out early next year at the recently-launched Aircraft Innovation Centre in Goodwood, Sussex after the UK Government awarded project funding. The testing “will demonstrate Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations in non-segregated airspace and involves drone operations management company ANRA Technologies air traffic management company Trax International, drone avionics supplier uAvionix and flight-tracking provider Plane Finder.”

When drones fly BVLOS in the UK, a temporary danger area (TDA) is created to segregate them from other aircraft. However, as drone use increases, TDAs are viewed as impractical and even to pose a safety risk.

The project hopes to deliver an environment for unmanned craft that does not require a TDA. This involves demonstrating a “detect and avoid” (D&A) capability within the drone while presenting data about all other airspace users to its operator. But, this D&A capability will need to be as good as or even superior to the ‘see and avoid’ capability of conventional aircraft under Visual Flight Rules.

These technologies will be integrated on ANRA’s drone traffic management system to improve safety and enable BVLOS operations. The project also takes advantage of the UK CAA’s intention to use 978Mhz as a second ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance broadcast) frequency to share surveillance and flight information data with other airspace users.

The trials will be the first to run from an aerodrome in live airspace. Anthony Venetz, Operations Manager at the Aviation Innovation Centre said, “If this trial is successful and is approved by the CAA, it will enable us to fly BVLOS flights without TDAs from Goodwood. The airspace can be used more effectively and companies can come here to test their UAS more easily.” He continued, “It is the next step in bringing the UK up to speed with where the USA and places in Europe are with this technology.”

Known as Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems, there are several challenges to overcome. They include the predicted volume of unmanned drone operations across both controlled and uncontrolled airspace, which could be on a scale comparable, if not greater, to that of present-day manned air traffic. Also, UTM requires “situational awareness of all aircraft operations” to be shared between manned aircraft and drone operators in a reliable, efficient and effective way.

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(News Source: https://www.aerospacetestinginternational.com)

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