General Atomics Drone Tested in Civilian Airspace with BAE Transponder; Frank Pace Comments

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Aviation Administration flew a Predator/Gray Eagle-series drone off the Florida Coast in August to demonstrate its operations in civilian airspace.

According to a General Atomics release, BAE Systems provided a prototype of a Friend or Foe transponder to interoperate with military and civilian air traffic control surveillance systems.

The test evaluated performance of the remotely piloted aircraft’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast-based surveillance system in detecting other aircraft.

“We are working closely with the FAA, other governmental agencies, and industry partners to advance the safety of RPA”, said Frank Pace, president of GA-ASI’s aircraft systems group. “We believe ADS-B will play a key role in a future sense-and-avoid system and will support the FAA’s NextGen initiative.”

The FAA is working to integrate drones into the civilian airspace system ahead of a 2015 deadline and has also mandated that all aircraft flying above 10,000 feet or around major U.S. airports must be ADS-B equipped by 2020.

According to the company, ADS-B is the GPS-based surveillance system for the FAA’s NextGen air traffic management system, aimed at transitioning the U.S. air traffic control system from ground-based to satellite-based.

During the test, a prototype of a maritime-configured Predator B containing a transponder detected other ADS-B-equipped aircraft in the vicinity and displayed the aircraft on a display within the ground control station.

At the same time, the ADS-B transponder notified other aircraft and ATC of its location and velocity.

You may also be interested in...

Air Force Invites Potential Partners to ISR Industry Day

The U.S. Air Force will host a event on Feb. 12 and 13 to discuss …

General Atomics to Integrate Hosted Payload for NOAA Space Data Collection Program

A General Atomics business unit has received a delivery order from the U.S. Air Force to integrate …

Elbit’s U.S. Arm to Provide Component for Raytheon Targeting System; Raanan Horowitz Quoted

Raytheon has selected Elbit Systems‘ U.S.-based subsidiary to provide a laser component for the Multi-Spectral …