Visiting Israeli manufacturers of unmanned air systems (UAS) leaves no doubt that one of their main efforts is to comply with the standards that are being built gradually, to allow the full integration of their products into a civil airspace already crowded with manned aircraft.
This is not a simple task as the regulators themselves have not agreed on the full set of safety standards, but progress is being achieved.
One milestone was achieved at the end of 2010 when the French civil aviation authority DGAC approved the airworthiness of the French army’s Harfang UAS for flights in civil airspace.
Until that moment, such flights were approved only in airspace that was closed to other air traffic.
The Harfang is actually the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron and is now the French army’s most advanced UAS system.
The DGAC’s approval, according to Israeli sources, was achieved after tests flight of the UAS with a civil IFF system and a validation of the full redundancy of its remote control system .
Israeli experts expect that following the DGAC approval it is likely that other European countries will enable the IAI Heron to fly in their airspace. But they continue and say that the progress will still be slow, very slow. When some of the UAS are getting bigger with wingspans of passenger aircraft, the doubts and fears that motivate the regulators in different countries are understandable.
But one thing is also very clear: full integration is inevitable as the UAS perform more and more tasks for armed forces and civil organizations.