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Drone air traffic control

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Rostato, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. Rostato

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    I am a center at traffic controller and our union posted this to Facebook today. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    I have been trying to get on the committee at my facility so that an actual "drone" pilot with real world experience can give viable input, but I've been busy with other projects and they won't let me take on more.

    I feel like this is way overthinking the issue. Hopefully it will only be for commercial drones.

    Thoughts?


    "We have no flight-tracking system for the lower sky. There are rules and charts for keeping track of larger aircraft that carry human passengers and are piloted by humans onboard, but drones are small and fly low, which means we have to trust in drone pilot good behavior to keep drones away from risky places, like airports. Small drones, unlike other aircraft, don’t broadcast their location, so tracking them in the sky is tricky. That’s why the FAA is working with NASA to come up with an Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management system. Or, essentially, air traffic control for drones.

    Earlier today, NASA tested the system at six different FAA test sites. Those test sites are quite the geographic spread: Fairbanks, Alaska; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Reno, Nevada; Rome, New York; Blacksburg, Virginia; Bushwood, Maryland; and Corpus Christi, Texas. NASA first tested the system at just one site last fall. From that test:

    As the pilots flew their drones within the approved geofence, the team monitored each drone’s ability to maintain flight plans in windy conditions with radar, cellular signals, ADS-B and GPS provided by the UAS ground control station to the UTM system. This data provides insight into the reliability, accuracy and delay associated with UAS position reports, and helps researchers further develop the UTM system’s navigational performance. In addition to collecting data about air traffic for UTM development, collaborator Griffon Sensors made traffic calls to alert the drone operators of non-transponding aircraft approaching the test range.
    Today, they tested that same system, across six states and with 24 drones. They needed just 16 to work to count it as a success.

    With 24 flying, the test exceeded expectations. Next steps for NASA include testing the new system with drones flying beyond a pilot’s line of sight, and figuring out how to track drones that aren’t part of the system. We still have a long way to go before this technology can keep track of an increasingly busy lower sky, but it’s a pretty good start." #FlySafe #KnowBeforeYouFly NASA Is Making A Drone-Traffic Control System
     
  2. dmagnus

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    I agree wholeheartedly that this is typical government "knee jerk" way over the top. BUT, at the risk of bringing the whole of Phantom Pilots down on me, I am going to publish something here that I have been thinking about for some time. Basically, it comes to the conclusion that, if things keep going the way they are, we will have exactly what these people are talking about. Most people have no clue as to what a transponder and ADS/B would cost to incorporate in our little UAVs.
    Let the flaming start:
     

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  3. Rostato

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    I personally agree with you. I am a private pilot have an A&P license, and I'm a controller. I am by no means the "be all end all" on aircraft and or airspace but I know enough.

    I look forward to the day that the FAA has a private / recreational model aircraft license, and a separate commercial rating. Hopefully they will waive the ratings and fees for pilots who fly with the AMA at sanctioned fields. But if your going to fly above 50 ft off the ground anywhere else, you **** well better understand the environment you operate your aircraft in.

    But as far as the original post, I think that the FAA is moving in the wrong direction...it's going to take them a long time to get it right. They don't need drone ATC. They need to develop routes and guidelines for commercial operations and let them fly they're routes during VFR conditions.

    FYI...an ADS-b transponder costs more than double the cost of a phantom. If the FAA goes this direction they effectively kill the hobby community...maybe that's they're intent
     
  4. Mark The Droner

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    This idea came up at least once in another thread - maybe a month ago? And I thought it was pretty smart. Putting trackers on all drones, and connecting them to the cellular network and to one server. Flight telemetry is sent to the server real time. And managed with software. Seems pretty brilliant to me.
     
  5. 750r

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  6. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    I agree with you except I know of one group that is currently testing a UAS version ADS-b Transmitter unit that IF all goes will will be under $100. They are working out the bugs right now in the Netherlands but early tests look EXTREMELY promising and thus far they have exceeded every spec to date.
     
  7. Rostato

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    Even if that's true it's a terrible idea. Controllers already have too much clutter on their scopes. Adding drones would be too much unless we could filter them out.
     
  8. dmagnus

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    Having an inexpensive addition to the quad that protected it from other machines would be cool. But it would have to be mandated or it wouldn't work. Everybody would have to have one for it to do any good.
    And then you are going to have the "outlaws" and those who just have to "push the envelope" who wouldn't use them.
    And, I wholeheartedly agree, the controllers have way too much on their scopes now to add literally millions of little gnats.
     
  9. Rostato

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    If they "sterilize" certain areas for drone use and use a drone control specifically for those sterile areas then they may have something.

    I could envision us having separate drone sectors, but mainly for commercial Ops.
     
  10. Ramphex

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    Would be nice to see a web-site and/or app where you can just "check-in" before flying and your local FAA office would automatically be updated and aware that within that radius you'll be flying at altitudes up to 400ft.

    All of us have smart phones and tablets so it's not like it would be hard to open an app, click check in, then check out when done with the flight session.
     
  11. Rostato

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    Not a bad idea at all. That would be super simple.
     
  12. dirtybum

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    BORING! I think I'll go fly 16 miles now
     
  13. bluntnose

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  14. Stevie_UK

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    Actually, it shouldn't be all that expensive to add a transmitter on the 1090MHz frequency that would indeed show up to other aircraft, whether the signal would reach ATC is another matter. Although I've analysed data being broadcast and indeed run my own server decoding local info so I can see what's in the sky and where. Building a transmitter would be relatively inexpensive, getting official approval on that would be another thing and I doubt would ever happen unless you've got a few million sitting spare to invest in all the trials etc.

    I do see the idea of a cellular network being used to then forward the data onto the correct networks as a possible solution.
     
  15. kevinm

    Approved Vendor

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    @Ramphex AirMap is performing a pilot program that's similar to what you described. It's called D-NAS and you can look it up here: AirMap CEO Answers “Why Now?” for D-NAS – airmap.com

    I'm pretty sure if you download their iOS app you can already notify participating airports using their D-NAS system. Way easier than needing to call in/file a NOTAM!

    For ADS-B transponders, there's a company uAvionix that's miniaturizing and lowering the cost of an ADS-B. I'm sure their ultimate goal is to integrate themselves with manufacturers like DJI. The FAA realizes the drone market potential and mandating an ADS-B without ensuring that the cost isn't prohibitive first would be shooting the entire industry in the foot, which they don't want to do.

    While cell networks are great, they don't have the consistency yet in all areas (like extremely rural areas, where a lot of these commercial drones are being flown). That's the positive part about ADS-B, that it's currently much more consistent in being able to broadcast positioning.

    Airspace integration is an extremely open-ended problem and it's interesting to see all these different players and technologies taking unique approaches to solve it!
     
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