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.
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.