Succesful DeSIRE flight announced
EDA and ESA announce succesful civil UAS integration trial
The European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) announced on 26 April the completion of a succesful flight trial as part of the Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe (DeSIRE) project that is being jointly funded by th two agencies.
The programme is part of an initiative to support the utilisation of UAS complemented by satellites for commercial and governmental applications.
To undertake this project Spanish company Indra is leading a European industrial consortium formed by AT-One, SES ASTRA, Thales Alenia Space and CIRA.
DeSIRE has undertaken a series of test flights to demonstrate the role of satellite communications for integrating in civil and military airspace UAS flight beyond line of sight. The concepts and applicable procedures were defined inv precursor feasibility studies. In particular, the flight completed on 24 April provided a generic terrestrial and maritime surveillance service, demonstrating the dual use of UAS.
During the tes an aircraft without a pilot on board took off from San Javier, spain at 11:00 and completed a six hour flight in civil and military airspace. The operation was timed to coincide with civil and military flights operating from the base, which shares its facilities with Murcia Airport.
After take-off, the aircraft switched from its line of sight (LOS) data link, to its satellite data link, capable of operating BLOS, and started its operational mission in segregated airspace, sending to the ground, by means of the satellite data link, the signals from its on-board sensors.
The UAV then climbed to 20,000ft, entering airspace class C, managed by AENA, the Spanish Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), from Barcelona Control Centre. The pilot of the UAV,located at the GCS, followed all the indications issued by the AENA air traffic controllers, acting like any other civil or military aircraft.
During this phase of the flight, a manned aircraft from the Air Force Academy approached the UAV, simulating frontal and 90º collision trajectories. The pilots of the two aircraft followed the separation instructions issued by the air traffic controllers, demonstrating the safe operation of remotely piloted aircraft even in an emergency situation such as the separation of two aircraft on a collision course.
Throughout the exercise, the data of SACTA, AENA's air traffic control system based on secondary radars, was available to the pilot of the UAV in the GCS, enabling him to improve the situational awareness of nearby aircraft, with more details and precision than an on-board pilot would have. A radar located on board the UAV was also used to detect surrounding traffic and the data were transmitted to the pilot through the satellite link. The aim was to define and test the air traffic control and operation procedures applicable to a remotely piloted aircraft and to evaluate the safety of the satellite link and the reaction capacity of the aircraft's ground pilot, both in routine operation and in emergency situations.
All the information collected in these tests will be analysed and compared with the safety requirements being established by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the operational requirements being set by Eurocontrol.
During the flight, the payload data collected from the sensors on-board the aircraft (AIS receiver, radar and video) were transmitted in real-time to the Ground Control Station and further processed to enable ships’ detection and identification.
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