What the ATM community needs to know about safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into airspace

23 October 2018

Doug Davis, Director of Airworthiness, Northrop Grumman Park Air and former Co-Chair, CANSO RPAS and Emerging Technologies Workgroup (RPAS/ET WG) provides a member perspective on CANSO's efforts to support safe integration of UAS into ATM

I have been absolutely amazed at the pace of change in the unmanned aircraft community since CANSO launched the RPAS and Emerging Technologies Workgroup in 2011. Back then, it seemed clear that larger RPAS were generating the most demand for access to airspace. Today, that is not the case. Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones operations are growing, and demand for access to airspace rapidly increasing. How air navigation service providers (ANSPs) tackle this challenge and embrace these new entrants to airspace is therefore critical.

UAS operations, in particular small UAS (sUAS), are on the rise, and regulators around the world are looking for guidance on procedures that permit small scale, local operations and facilitate the growth of new entrants to airspace in both controlled and uncontrolled airspace. The challenge for air traffic management (ATM) is how to safely accommodate these new entrants to airspace and continue safe, efficient, and effective operations.

CANSO provides leadership on air traffic management (ATM) operational issues and facilitates the promotion and exchange of industry best practice in operations and technical areas. To help address the challenge of new entrants to airspace, inform ANSPs and guide future policy, research and development, CANSO has launched ANSP Considerations for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations. Itaddresses increasing demand on ATM by the introduction of UAS operations into airspace and considers solutions for safely accommodating these new entrants into airspace.

The target audience includes ATM and ANSP policy makers and management and staff, including those specifically responsible for ATM procedures. The objective is to raise awareness of UAS operations to ANSPs to inform them how UAS can be accommodated safely into ATM systems, and identify some of the issues that need to be addressed to safely achieve greater UAS integration in the future. Additionally, it highlights the assistance and UAS training materials available to CANSO ANSP members. The document is also designed help regulators and policy makers in understanding the processes and procedures being considered and developed, and the implications for broader aviation operations.

UAS operations are developing daily, and new technologies continue to emerge. As such, CANSO’s work in this area and its guidance materials will evolve over time. For example, some of the technical solutions (detect and avoid) and future concepts (UAS traffic management (UTM)) identified are still being addressed and CANSO, via its dedicated Workgroups and industry network, is working alongside industry partners to embrace these challenges. What is vital is that all partners work together and the ATM community continues to develop the tools and procedures necessary to facilitate a safe, efficient, effective and truly integrated global airspace.

To find out more about CANSO’s work on drones and how you can get involved, please get in touch.




About the author

Doug Davis, Director of Airworthiness, Northrop Grumman Park Air and former Co-Chair, CANSO RPAS and Emerging Technologies Workgroup (RPAS/ET WG)

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