UAVs sharing civilian airspace

By Joseph Normandin

Posted by John McHale

One of the topics of discussion this week at the Unmanned Systems North America show in Washington was what needs to be done technologically and culturally to manage the growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in civilian airspace.

One of the topics of discussion this week at the Unmanned Systems North America show in Washington was what needs to be done technologically and culturally to manage the growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in civilian airspace.

The key is to take a proactive air traffic management approach instead of reacting to problems such as collision avoidance , David Vos, senior director of Unmanned Airborne Systems and Control Technologies for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told me today.

The biggest challenge will not be technological or bureaucratic, but rather cultural, Vos said. Many in the commercial aircraft industry do not understand unmanned systems and they need to realize they are not just toys or model airplanes, he added.

In a presentation he made at the show this week Vos said that "as the need for civil UAVs increases and airspace continues to crowd, the NextGen (Next generation Air Traffic Management System) , SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) , and increased automation are essential."

Vos also says those concerned must understand the rules as determined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Eurocontrol.

If there comes a time when the Department of Homeland Security needs to use UAVs over New York City, they must have an open dialogue with commercial airspace authorities.

UAVs are not going to decrease in numbers, they are here to stay and in the long run will be more economical than manned aircraft, Vos said.

He predicted that there will come a day when commercial passenger flights are pilotless much the same way some trains are today.

Once people become more comfortable with the concept, the UAV business will explode.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

December 2013
Volume 24, Issue 12
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