General Atomics Tests RPA Safety System

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems demonstrated a prototype GPS-based surveillance system for its Predator-series remotely piloted aircraft that allows these platforms to operate safely in the national airspace, announced the company. The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast-based system offers enhanced situational awareness and sense-and-avoid tools, according to the company’s Oct. 25 release. The Aug. 10 trial of ADS-B aboard a modified Predator B flying off the Florida coast showed that air traffic controllers could “precisely” identify the RPA’s location and flight profile; ADS-B also notified other aircraft of the Predator’s location and velocity, states the release. For the Predator operators, ADS-B detected other similarly equipped aircraft in the vicinity and displayed their location on a display in the Predator ground control station, states the release. The company held the test in conjunction with the Homeland Security Department and FAA. “We believe ADS-B will play a key role in a future sense-and-avoid system . . . so this is a step in the right direction,” said Frank Pace, president of the company’s Aircraft Systems Group.