Thales and QUT in joint UAV program

The Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. [Photo:Defence]Thales Australia has commissioned theAustralian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA) at Queensland University of Technology to advance Australian research into the implications for air traffic management ofUnmanned Aerial Vehicles in non-segregated civil airspace.

Thales CEO Chris Jenkins said as a leader in UAV research ARCAA was ideally suited to undertake the study, adding that while UAVs were yet to enter civil airspace on a routine basis, they would become more prevalent.

“UAVs are moving at a rapid pace beyond the military sphere into the realm of governments and the private sector (and) their use will grow in the future, and air traffic management systems need to be ready to cater for them.”

ARCAA Director Professor Duncan Campbellsaid: “We will undertake a scoping study to identify the key challenges associated with the routine operation of UAVs within the Australian airspace management system including collaboration with the Wackett Aerospace Research Centre at RMITUniversity.”

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Thales Australia commissions UAV study

Implications for air traffic management of unmanned aerial vehicles using non-segregated air space in Australia is to be conducted by an Australian university.

The study by the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation at Queensland University of Technology was commissioned by Thales Australia.

“UAVs are moving at a rapid pace beyond the military sphere into the realm of governments and the private sector,” said Thales Australia Chief Executive Officer Chris Jenkins. “Their use will grow in the future, and air traffic management systems need to be ready … for them.

“As the prime contractor for Australia’s air traffic management system and a major exporter of the technology, we are uniquely placed to work closely with ARCAA and other stakeholders to progress the integration of UAVs into the existing [traffic management] framework.”

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Making room for UAV air space

UAVs

THE long march towards allowing unmanned aerial vehicles to operate in civil airspace is taking another step with a scoping study to identify issues that might affect air-traffic management.

The Queensland University of Technology-led Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation has been commissioned by air-traffic management systems provider Thales to look at how controllers may have to deal with UAVs.

The study comes as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority reviews rules governing UAV flights as a result of the increasing demand, from border security to bushfire monitoring, power line surveillance and even whale tracking.

ARCAA director Duncan Campbell said the latest study, in collaboration with the Wackett Aerospace Research Centre at RMIT University, built on other areas of investigation at the centre. “It struck us that there hadn’t been much of a conversation around air-traffic management in controlled space,” he said.

“So we started thinking about what are the questions that really have to be answered in terms of procedures and technologies and all these sort of things. What did it look like on an air-traffic controller’s screen, for instance?”

Professor Campbell said the study would identify questions rather than provide answers, and was looking at CASA’s 2015-16 target dates for providing guidance materials and possibly revising the regulations. “So really it’s a study of what needs to be done.”

Among the issues will be the type of equipment UAVs will need to operate in or near integrated airspace and the type of aircraft required to carry it, as well as what controllers will need to be able to see, communicate with and separate the vehicles.

“So what we’re trying to do is say here are all the various options and the various scenarios that we can see, or at least that we need to research further and see what the real, viable solutions are,” Professor Campbell said.

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