EADS Military Aircraft is to begin simulator trials of a safety system designed to allow unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to operate in civil-controlled airspace.

EADS is working with the DLR, the German research agency, on the demonstration of UAV flight in controlled airspace, using the DLR's VFW 614 ATTAS testbed as a surrogate UAV Flight tests are to start later this year, with two more phases due next year.

DLR and EADS have defined procedures for planned flights and emergencies. The two are now progressing with development of the flight-test programmes and a simulation-based analysis.

EADS has an air traffic control simulator which it will link with a generic high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV simulator that it has developed in-house. Some of this work has been funded by the company.

EADS says it plans to use the simulation to test the safety system in "real scenarios". It adds that using a synthetic environment will allow tests of emergency procedures, such as an engine failure, that would be more difficult to test using a manned aircraft in controlled airspace. EADS says it hopes to have the support of air traffic controllers from DFS, the German national air traffic services provider. The company also intends to involve the LBA, Germany's airworthiness authority, and Eurocontrol.

The first simulator test campaign is planned for October, with a second towards the middle of next year. October's trial will probably last around four weeks.

The EADS HALE UAV simulator includes a flight model, mission planning system, a ground station and an environmental mock-up. It could be developed later into an unmanned platform mission simulator.

Although HALE UAVs will spend relatively little time in controlled airspace, they will have to pass through it while climbing to and descending from operating altitude.

Operating UAVs in northern Europe is complicated by airspace congestion. In addition, population densities mean emergency procedures must be more defined than they are elsewhere.

Source: Flight International