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Drones Heading For The NAS

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Old October 13th 17, 10:58 AM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Posts: 3,843
Default Drones Heading For The NAS

A few years ago on a VFR flight plan near Victorville, I encountered a
UAV while en route from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara. While at 8500
feet, ATC called traffic 5 miles at my altitude. Subsequent calls to
the UAV aircrafts "pilot" (safely on the ground) failed to elicit a
response, and at a speed of over two miles per minute, I was soon
forced to take evasive action, and clime 500 feet to avoid it. I was
unable to see the un-lighted gray aircraft. A subsequent Freedom Of
Information request produced data that indicated there was no chase
aircraft associated with this UAVs flight. So, it would appear that
General Atomics was flying these things in the National Airspace
System in violation of their conditional Airworthiness
certification.... See-And-avoid, as required by Federal Aviation
Regulations for all flights in Visual Metrological Conditions, was
clearly not being complied with by the General Atomics drone "pilot,"
and the inconspicuity of the drone made it impossible for me to spot.
But hey, it's a big sky, right? :-(



Drones Heading For The NAS

By Mary Grady | October 11, 2017

The remotely piloted Ikhana drone could be flying unescorted in the
National Airspace System as early as fall 2018, NASA said last week.
Testing in the NAS is planned to take place from NASA’s Armstrong
Flight Research Center in California. During the test, Ikhana would
fly alone in the NAS for the first time, without a manned aircraft
nearby. “Integration of UAS into the NAS for routine flight operations
is a complicated endeavor,” said NASA engineer Sam Kim. The flight
will require “new technologies, exhaustive research through modeling
and simulations, and comprehensive flight testing,” said Kim.
Eventually, NASA says, their goal is to make it routine for manned and
unmanned aircraft to share the same airspace.

Most current operations of unmanned aerial systems in the NAS require
that a piloted chase aircraft serve as the UAS’s “eyes” to see and
avoid other aircraft. During the 2018 flight demonstration, Ikhana
will employ its own detect-and-avoid systems integrated on board the
aircraft and in the ground-control station to maintain safe separation
with other aircraft and avoid collisions, NASA said. NASA’s “UAS in
the NAS” project team has worked with the drone community since 2011
to address the technical barriers that preclude routine drone
operations in the national airspace. Meanwhile, a panel of industry
and law enforcement officials have failed to reach agreement on how
drones should be tracked and managed by federal authorities, Bloomberg
reported on Wednesday.

The FAA advisory committee couldn’t reach consensus on key issues, and
most members of the committee declined to sign the group’s final
report, which was submitted to the FAA last week. Members of the panel
represented hobbyists, police and commercial drone users, Bloomberg
said. Each advocated for their own special interests and failed to
reach consensus. “The FAA will review the advisory committee’s report
and its findings carefully,” the agency told Bloomberg in an email.



"Ikhana is participating in tests that engage the core air traffic
infrastructure and supporting software components through a live and
virtual environment to demonstrate how a remotely piloted aircraft
interacts with air traffic controllers and other air traffic. The
aircraft has been equipped with a developmental sense-and-avoid system
and software developed by partners."

NASA Armstrong Fact Sheet: Ikhana Predator B Unmanned Science and
Research Aircraft System
NASA acquired a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI)
MQ-9 Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in November 2006 to
support Earth science missions and advanced aeronautical technology
development. Named Ikhana, the aircraft also acts as a test bed to
develop capabilities and technologies to improve the utility of UAS.

Ikhana is a Native American Choctaw word meaning intelligent,
conscious or aware. The name is descriptive of the research goals NASA
has established for the aircraft and its related systems.

NASA's Ikhana Predator B received an avionics upgrade, wingtip
winglets, and a new paint scheme in 2013.
Credits: GA-SAI Photo
Representative Experiments and Projects

The MQ-9 aircraft, designed for long-endurance, medium-altitude
flight, has been modified and instrumented for use in multiple civil
research roles.

A variety of Earth science in situ and remote sensing instruments can
be installed to collect data during flights lasting more than 20
hours. Data gathered by sensors on Ikhana within the Earth’s
atmosphere complement measurements of the same phenomena taken from
space and those taken on Earth’s surface.

Ikhana participated in the Western States Fire Mission that from 2007
to 2009 demonstrated improved wildfire imaging and mapping
capabilities. NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California,
developed a sophisticated sensor and real-time data communications

The aircraft carried the Autonomous Modular Sensor (AMS) in a
wing-mounted pod in support of the wildfire missions. The AMS is
capable of peering through thick smoke and haze to record hot spots
and the progression of wildfires during a lengthy period. The data
gathered was overlaid on Google Earth maps and downlinked in near-real
time to the Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, and made
available to fire incident commanders to assist in allocating
firefighting resources.

NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate uses the aircraft for
advanced aircraft systems research and technology development.

A NASA-patented fiber optic sensor system moved from years of
laboratory development and testing to large-scale, dynamic field
testing in 2008 when the technology was flown on the remotely piloted
Ikhana to measure change in the wing shape in flight. The effort
represented one of the first comprehensive flight validations of fiber
optic sensor technology.

NASA, working with government and industry partners, is providing the
Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) Special Committee
228 with data to support its development of minimum operational
performance standard necessary for UAS to regularly access the
National Airspace System (NAS).

An Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, device was
first tested on NASA's MQ-9 Ikhana unmanned aircraft on March 15,
2012. ADS-B is an aircraft tracking technology that all planes
operating in U.S. airspace must adopt by January 2020 to comply with
Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Through the agency’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the
National Airspace System (UAS-NAS) project, NASA, GA-ASI and Honeywell
International Inc. are flying a series of tests at NASA's Armstrong
Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Ikhana is participating in tests that engage the core air traffic
infrastructure and supporting software components through a live and
virtual environment to demonstrate how a remotely piloted aircraft
interacts with air traffic controllers and other air traffic. The
aircraft has been equipped with a developmental sense-and-avoid system
and software developed by partners.

NASA operates a ground control station and satellite communication
system for transmitting flight commands to and downlinking aircraft
and mission data from Ikhana. The ground control station is installed
in a mobile trailer and, in addition to the pilot's instruments and
controls, includes computer workstations for scientists and engineers.
All the aircraft systems are mobile, making Ikhana an option for
missions conducted from remote sites around the globe.

Fiber Optic sensors are covered with dark sealant tape on the left
wing of Ikhana during a 2008 study to measure change in wing shape.
Credits: NASA / Tony Landis
Aircraft Description

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego, California,
developed the original Predator A medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS
during the mid-1990s for the United States Air Force. Development of
the larger, more powerful Predator B was initiated in 2000 by the firm
with partial funding from NASA. The agency was interested in the Earth
science capabilities of a civil version of the aircraft with a larger
payload and higher altitude capability, along with longer endurance.
The aircraft is based at NASA Armstrong.

NASA's MQ-9 Ikhana Predator B has a wingspan of 66 feet and is 36 feet
long. More than 400 pounds of sensors can be carried internally and
over 2,000 pounds in external under-wing pods. Ikhana is powered by a
Honeywell TPE 331-10T turbo-prop engine and is capable of reaching
altitudes above 40,000 feet. Ikhana was the first production Predator
B equipped with a digital electronic engine controller developed by
Honeywell and GA-ASI that makes the aircraft 5 to 10 percent more fuel
efficient than earlier versions.

In 2013, Ikhana received a major avionics upgrade, bringing the
aircraft's systems to current standards and making the UAS
maintainable and sustainable. The Ikhana project also acquired a new
140-inch long, 30-inch diameter generic science pod with a payload
capacity of more than 500 pounds. The pod’s internal arrangement is
reconfigurable to accommodate a variety of science sensors and

November 2015

Last Updated: Aug. 4, 2017
Editor: Monroe Conner

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