NASA Promotes Commercial Drone Use

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Rockwell Collins and NASA have scheduled risk reduction tests that will eventually enable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to safely operate in the national airspace.

NASA's Viking aircraft. Photo: NASA
NASA’s Viking aircraft. Photo: NASA

The NASA-owned Lockheed S-3 Viking and the University of Iowa Operator Performance Laboratory’s Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft will serve as surrogates for unmanned aerial vehicles during two phases of testing. The first part of the test will demonstrate the ability of unmanned aircraft to hand off communications from one tower to another.

Unmanned Systems Event 2014 – Israel

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The second part of the test will demonstrate the ability of a single tower to communicate to multiple aircraft. The waveform being developed can support multiple channels from a single ground transmitter, enabling multiple aircraft to be simultaneously served, according to local operational needs.

This project, co-funded by Rockwell Collins, develops a non-proprietary data link waveform that is planned for release as a public resource. It will help both the industry and the Federal Aviation Administration to develop an appropriate set of rules and requirements for reliable unmanned flight operations in the national airspace system.