A NASA-owned General Atomics Predator B unmanned air vehicle – dubbed ‘Ikhana’ – equipped with a Detect and Avoid (DAA) system has successfully conducted a flight through the US National Airspace System (NAS).
The test was designed to test the DAA system and to enable the aircraft to meet the Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA’s) stringent 14 CFR 91.113(b) requirement to ‘see and avoid’ other aircraft during the flight.
“Our goal of producing UAS that can be certified to fly in non-segregated airspace took a big step forward today,” General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) CEO, Linden Blue said in a statement.
“Today’s successful flight is testament to the strong relationship that we have with the FAA, NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center and Honeywell to produce the definitive standard for unmanned aircraft operation in congested airspaces.”
The DAA system is comprised of a GA-ASI-developed airborne radar, a TCAS II and DAA tracking capability from Honeywell, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) IN/OUT, and a Conflict Prediction and Display System.
“Our DAA system is more capable than the collision avoidance systems required on today’s commercial manned aircraft and we believe it far exceeds the average pilot’s ability to ‘see and avoid’,” added GA-ASI’s president Aircraft Systems, David R. Alexander.
“The predictive capabilities our system employs create a safe environment for manned and unmanned aircraft to fly together in the NAS.”
DAA will be a key element of a certified status for unmanned systems, a requirement which is key for the UK’s Predator B acquisition, and which will likely also be a requirement for Australia’s Project AIR 7003 armed medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAS capability.