AUVSI: Army gets FAA qualified nod for sense-and-avoid at El Mirage

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The US Army has received from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a "formal approval" of a safety analysis of a ground-based sense-and-avoid (GBSAA) system at the El Mirage unmanned air vehicle (UAV) test flight area. Along with the approval, the FAA granted the Army a certificate of authorization (COA) allowing operators to fly with the safety system for dusk-to-dawn flights, though not without "some significant prerequisites and restrictions," says Col. Gregory Gonzalez, program manager for Army unmanned aircraft systems. "We're working with the FAA to see if they can limit those prerequisites."

The system uses two linked ground-based radar systems to identify aircraft that may pose a collision threat so that the Army UAVs can be moved out of the way. The Army has previously been required to use a chase aircraft during the flights for sense-and-avoid. Gonzalez says the technique will be expanded to other locations on a case-by-case basis.