Wings Magazine

General Atomics shows UAVs can share airspace

Nov. 6, 2012, San Diego, Ca. - General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA ASI), manufacturer of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and electro-optic surveillance systems, has successfully demonstrated that drones used in warzones can cooperatively and safely share airspace with civilian aircraft.

November 6, 2012  By

The tests involved a Predator B RPA drone equipped with a radio
location system, automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) in
order to avoid collision with other aircraft.


According to the
Federal Aviation Administration, all domestic aircraft flying above
10,000ft or around major US airports will have to be equipped with the
radio location system by 2020.



The tests were conducted in order
to determine the wider use of robotic planes in American airspace, as
they are generally allowed to be used only in warzones and not


Used in the test is the Predator B RPA drone, which is an upgraded version of the Guardian used by the US Navy.


US Government has given FAA time until 2015 to sufficiently prepare its
air traffic systems so that drones can be used over domestic airspace
for both commercial and military purposes.


ADS-B is considered to be the basis of FAA's next-generation air
traffic management (ATM) system, which is planned to upgrade the
country's air control from a ground-based system to one that is


This is also expected to simplify air traffic logistics and increase safety margins for aircraft.


During the tests, the drone's location and flight path were continuously monitored.


Aircraft Systems Group president Frank W Pace said that the company was
working closely with the FAA, other governmental agencies, and industry
partners to advance the safety of RPA.


"We believe ADS-B will
play a key role in a future sense-and-avoid system and will support the
FAA's 'next gen' initiative, so this is a step in the right direction,"
Pace added.


The company plans to conduct several more tests.


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