Sagem has successfully demonstrated the ability of its Patroller unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to operate in civilian, non-segregated airspace.
Conducted near Toulouse, France, the test series included approximately 20 flights, which were aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of a drone being integrated in shared airspace in compliance with civil aviation regulations and air control procedures.
During the trials the company displayed a complete anti-collision function, which is a key factor in integrating UAVs in civilian airspace shared with manned aircraft.
Testing was undertaken in collaboration with the French air navigation and safety agency DSNA, the laboratory run by the national civil aviation school ENAC, and Rockwell Collins France, as part of Project Operational Demonstration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) in European Airspace (ODREA).
ENAC provided a dummy aircraft to support the testing of a ‘see and avoid’ system integrated in the Patroller’s control system in different conflict scenarios, enabling the drone to detect the risk of a collision and avoid it, without the need for an operator.
The ‘see and avoid’ system combines traffic detection sensors, including an infrared optronic sensor and an automatic risk collision estimation and avoidance flightpath generation module.
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The trials also highlighted Patroller’s ability to carry out approaches to the Toulouse-Blagnac airport according to procedures defined by air traffic control, confirming that a drone can operate in the terminal zone of an international airport without impacting traffic or safety.
Said to be the first of its type in Europe, the UAV’s demonstration flights followed a major simulation validation project by the ODREA consortium.
Project ODREA forms part of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme that seeks to upgrade civilian air traffic management.
Jointly developed by Sagem and Stemme, Patroller is a remote-controlled medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV, designed for dual-use governmental purpose in support of defence and homeland security missions.
Image: The Sagem Patroller unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the 2009 Paris Air Show in France. Photo: courtesy of Tangopaso.