The integration of UAS (unmanned aerial systems) into non-segregated airspace is one of the biggest challenges in modern aviation. It is not sufficient to regulate the use of airspace solely in terms of legal provisions. This has been clearly evidenced in FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) reports, which currently register more than 150 dangerous approaches of UAVs to manned aerial vehicles per month. This is 10 times more than in 2014, and it is anticipated that the rate will grow in the years to come. In Europe, the scale of this phenomenon is smaller, but its dynamics are at a similar level.
Whoever first opens its airspace to commercial UAS will launch a powerful market of new technologies that will affect our daily lives.
In order to ensure that manned and unmanned aerial vehicles share the airspace safely, systemic solutions are needed in addition to legal regulations. We are talking here about widely known DAA (Detect and Avoid) technology, which is focused on ensuring safe separations. Working groups that are developing the standardization of DAA (except for its physical layer) include, among others, TCA SC-228 and EUROCAE WG-105.
These solutions are intended to be compatible with manned air traffic control systems such as ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) and SSR (Secondary Surveillance Radar). The production of avionics for large aviation is a complex, multi-stage process, included in the framework defined by TSO (Technical Standard Orders). In the case of the production of avionics for UAS, there are additional significant restrictions related to size / weight / power consumption and price.
Such requirements require balancing the possibilities of today’s electronics and the latest signal processing methods. For this reason, only a few companies in the world offer micro-avionics for UAS. In Europe, this is the focus of a Polish company called Aerobits, which, in addition to ready-made ADS-B transceivers (weighing 20g), offers OEM solutions in the form of electronic modules for low-level integration of ADS-B functionality in UAS controllers or ground base stations.
These systems open the way to the integration of UAS into airspace, while ensuring compatibility with manned aviation. Work on such solutions is carried out independently of the aforementioned aviation institutions. Each country is employing some degree of autonomy in local aviation offices and is trying to define the UTM (unmanned traffic management) structure and the U-Space concept on its own. The stakes are high.
Whoever first opens its airspace to commercial UAS will launch a powerful market of new technologies that will affect our daily lives. An additional advantage of independent work on the integration of drones into airspace will be the ability to verify various system concepts that will lead to faster development of detailed guidelines for UTM / U-Space.