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FAA and NASA Complete Drone Demonstrations

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WASHINGTON The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has concluded the second phase of its Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management Pilot Program (UTM/UPP).

The agency ended the phase with virtual demonstrations in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and two UAS Test Sites: the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) and the New York UAS Test Site(NYUASTS).

The UPP results will provide a proof of concept for UTM capabilities and serve as the basis for policy considerations, standards development and the implementation of a UTM system.

The demonstrations will help move us closer to safe beyond-visual-line-of-sight drone operations, said Pamela Whitley, the FAAs acting assistant administrator for NextGen. Flight testing UTM capabilities in high-density airspace will help us develop policy for safely and efficiently integrating drones into our national airspace while benefiting and serving communities.

The demonstrations showcased emerging UTM capabilities that will support beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations:

  • The FAA UTM Flight Information Management System prototype and infrastructure, which gives the FAA access to information from industry and other stakeholders.
  • New technologies and data to validate the latest international standards for remote identification and support authorized users with specific operator data.
  • In-flight separation from other drones or manned aircraft in high-density airspace to validate recently proposed international UTM standards to help drones avoid each other.
  • UAS volume reservations to notify drone operators of emergencies and make sure other UTM capabilities work properly in these scenarios.
  • Secure information exchanges between the FAA, industry and authorized users to ensure data integrity.

Check out the demonstrations in action

Each event attracted more than 100 participants and included local and state elected officials and representatives from international civil aviation authorities. Both test sites collaborated with drone operators and local public safety agencies to demonstrate scenarios that featured various complex UTM capabilities working together to support BVLOS operations with increasing volumes and densities.

MAAP hosted an event on Oct. 28 in partnership with UAS Service Suppliers (USS) AirMap, AiRXOS, ANRA Technologies, and Wing. On Nov. 9, NYUASTS hosted its showcase in coordination with the Griffiss International Airport, Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR), and USS partners AiRXOS, ANRA Technologies, AX Enterprize, and OneSky.

The FAA has worked closely with NASA, industry and other stakeholders since 2017 to identify the initial set of capabilities needed to support small drone operations and advance UTM. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 extended the objectives of the program to further enable safe BVLOS drone operations, paving the way for the program.

Stay tuned for more updates on how emerging technologies are being field tested to support the growing UAS industry.

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