NASA has signed a cooperative agreement with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) to perform a demonstration flight as part of the agency’s project to integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). The objective of the demonstration, scheduled for 2020, is to tackle key challenges that prevent routine commercial UAS operations in the NAS today, including development, integration, and certification of UAS and the technologies required for safe operation with other manned and unmanned aircraft traffic in the NAS.
Key enabling technologies that will be demonstrated include Detect and Avoid (DAA) and Command and Control datalink systems, which are aligned with recently-published standards.
As part of the demonstration, GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft will exhibit its ability to provide a wide variety of commercial and public services using onboard sensors and additional ‘virtual sensors’ that it could carry in the future. Services include inspections of hundreds of miles of rail, energy pipeline, powerline and canal infrastructure, agriculture monitoring and topological surveys, as well as wildfire and flood monitoring, and maritime surveillance.
The City of San Diego is supporting GA-ASI’s and NASA’s flight objectives under the UAS Integration Pilot Programs (IPPs). The highlight of the flight will be to perform public infrastructure surveys above the city. The City’s UAS IPP team will connect GA-ASI with local customers of the survey opportunities that this portion of the demo will offer.
“NASA and GA-ASI have a shared goal of seeing UAS fly safely and unencumbered in the NAS,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “GA-ASI has worked with NASA for more than five years on this goal and we’re excited to participate in their next set of demonstrations.”
GA-ASI’s technology partners for the demonstration include Honeywell and Collins Aerospace.