Two UK airports announced earlier this year the creation of a National Aeronautical Centre (NAC) for the testing of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the first such nongovernment venture in Europe. West Wales Airport at Aberporth and Newquay Airport in Cornwall, southwest England, have linked up to jointly offer to UAS developers (Unmanned Vehicles area, Stand 645) their facilities and runways, along with access to large offshore testing areas.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association
Integration of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS, or unmanned air systems) into non-segregated airspace in Europe has moved a step closer with the latest test flight in the Desire project (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe). The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) and led by Indra of Spain.
The UAV community that will meet soon in Las Vegas for Unmanned Systems North America might draw some wisdom from the effort to introduce unmanned aircraft in UK civil airspace.
With funding now assured under the FY 2012 Reauthorization and Reform Act, the FAA’s four-year UAV project is getting under way. But the overarching goal of achieving access to the NAS is going to require a good deal of effort, particularly on the regulatory side. It looks fairly straightforward, but in fact it can get complex and there’s a distinct possibility that some participants won’t make it by the Sept. 30, 2015 deadline.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could soon be coming to civil airspace near you, and the FAA wants to know what you think. The safety considerations of mixing piloted aircraft in NextGen airspace with those flown by people on the ground or even totally by computer are serious concerns for most aviators.
Manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may no longer have an excuse not to equip their aircraft with transponders, which should make at least one pilot happy. This pilot told AIN that he experienced a near-miss with a UAV while flying in the southwestern U.S.
Do UAVs threaten civil pilot careers? That’s the question that AIN posed to several attendees at a recent conference in Montreal, sponsored by industry trade group Unmanned Systems Canada. The answer: it seems unlikely, other than for young pilots just setting out on their careers, or a small number of pilots flying specialized applications.
Officials from the UK’s up-and-coming UAV test airfield are negotiating here this week with several American companies who have expressed frustration with the lack of timely cooperation from their own Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The recent commencement of low-altitude Customs and Immigration patrols by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) along the Arizona/Mexico border and the earlier nonstop, totally automated, transpacific and transatlantic flights above FL600 by the USAF’s Global Hawk (AIN, December, page 54) are strong signals that one day the altitude gap between these two will close, and we’ll have unmanned aircraft sharing our airspace. When will that day arrive?
The number of unmanned air vehicles in our skies is growing fast, but there are many regulatory and doctrinal issues to resolve, before UAVs and their ground and underwater-based cousins will operate routinely.
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