A Sagem team recently completed an 11-day flight test campaign to explore the integration of its Patroller unmanned air vehicle into civil airspace.
As part of the Operational Demonstration of RPAS [remotely piloted aircraft systems] in European Airspace (ODREA) project, 20 tests were carried out between 26 October and 7 November near Toulouse, France, during which a sense-and-avoid system developed by Sagem and integrated onto the Patroller was utilised to test its collision avoidance capability.
Sagem teamed with the French air navigation and safety agency DSNA, the laboratory of the national civil aviation school (ENAC) and Rockwell Collins France to carry out the ODREA research under the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) initiative.
To test collision avoidance, ENAC provided a dummy aircraft to act as the airborne obstruction for the sense-and-avoid system to detect and circumvent.
The sense-and-avoid system is made up of a series of sensors including an electro-optic/infrared camera and an automatic risk collision estimation and avoidance flightpath generation module, Sagem says. It was tested in different scenarios and demonstrated an ability to avoid collision without operator intervention.
In parallel the ODREA testing enabled the team to test UAV airport approaches at Toulouse-Blagnac airport while adhering to air traffic control procedures, demonstrating that a UAV can operate near terminal buildings without having an impact on other airport traffic.
This testing led on from a simulation project carried out by the team, and was “a real first in Europe”, according to Sagem.
“It marks a major step forward in demonstrating the state-of-the-art technological solutions for integrating drones in civilian, non-segregated airspace,” it adds.