New Sense and Avoid Technology for RPAs

The manufacturer of the Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper announced two new technological developments related to the company’s “sense and avoid” research efforts. Working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Honeywell, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., recently tested a proof of concept SAA system, marking the first successful test of the FAA’s Airborne Collision Avoidance System for Unmanned Aircraft, according to a company release. The system includes sensor fusion capabilities to provide the pilot a clear picture of traffic around the aircraft and automatic collision avoidance. It was tested in early September at GA-ASI’s Palmdale, Calif., facility on a Predator B aircraft. The test is touted as a “major step forward for integrating RPAs safely into domestic and international airspace,” GA-ASI President Frank Pace said, adding the system will now undergo extensive flight testing with the FAA, NASA, and other industry partners. In a separate development, GA-ASI said it has also tested a pre-production air-to-air radar for SAA systems, called the “Due Regard Radar” on a Beechcraft King Air, tracking multiple aircraft out to 10 miles. The radar eventually will help enable routine operations in domestic and international airspace, according to the release.