Who will Manage Drone Traffic?

Who will Manage Drone Traffic?

Photo illus. traffic by Pixabay

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With the proliferation of drone operations around the world, there is a growing need to manage the airspace in order to enable multiple drones carry out beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will begin field-testing new drone-traffic-management capabilities to further integrate these aircraft into the National Airspace System.  

The Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) Field Test, which will start in the spring of 2022, will allow the government and the drone community to continue improving standards, data-exchange methods and cybersecurity capabilities.  

UTM is a “traffic management” ecosystem for uncontrolled operations that is separate from, but complementary to, the FAA’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) system.

UTM includes a set of services that are complementary to, but separate from, Air Traffic Management services for manned aircraft. It is targeted toward small unmanned aircraft operations in airspace, generally flying below 400 feet, and builds on current rules and capabilities that enable airspace access and authorization.

According to the FAA announcement, the test outcomes will provide the agency with critical information to support the development of new policies and for industry development of updated standards to allow drones to routinely fly beyond visual line of sight of the operators.

The FAA and its industry partners will conduct multiple drone flights in realistic test scenarios to learn more about how to manage drone traffic in varying environments. The flight tests will examine how the latest capabilities and standards will work to support the operations in the real world.