Monday, July 25, 2011

Avionics 2011-08

The payoff of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for military, law enforcement and scientific missions is constrained by the airspace they can share with manned aircraft. As of May 2011, one Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system Demonstrator (BAMS-D) was providing 50 percent of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) imagery for the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet in the Arabian Gulf. The Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Global Hawk nevertheless depends on off-board sensors to keep clear of other aircraft. Capt. Robert Dishman, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) program manager for Persistent Maritime UASs explains, "We'll be tethered to a ground-based radar, or if we're to operate outside the littoral regions, we'll be tethered to a ship, AWACS or E-2. That's very limiting." The Increment I MQ-4C BAMS expected operational in 2015 will be the first UAS with a Due Regard sensor to cue ground operators to conflicting air traffic. Autonomous airborne and ground-based Sense-And-Avoid (SAA) technology must be integrated with new certification, training and operating standards to steer unmanned air vehicles (UAV) through shared sky. Like most UAS integrators, MQ-1 Predator/Reaper/ Gray Eagle manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI), based in San Diego, has SAA plans. Tests of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) found shortcomings in algorithms certified for civil aircraft.