A Heron 1 medium-altitude long-endurance UAV from IAI has recently participated in a demonstration of unmanned operations in civilian airspace, undertaken at Murcia-San Javier in Spain. The airfield is a military training base but is also used by commercial aircraft, and the operations of the UAV were timed to coincide with those by other airport users.
Conducted under the aegis of the European Defense Agency and European Space Agency, the demonstrations involved more than 10 trials that portrayed real-world scenarios that are likely to occur in civilian airspace. Data from the flights will be used to form the basis for licensing, qualification and flight safety requirements for unmanned aircraft integration.
During the demonstration the Heron was used to show the ability of the UAV to operate in the same airspace as a manned aircraft by employing satellite communications. The trial was accomplished under the DeSIRE (demonstration of satellites enabling the insertion of RPAs in Europe) program, which is being undertaken by an industrial consortium led by Spain’s Indra. The piloted aircraft simulated frontal and 90-degree collision trajectories towards the Heron, resulting in separation commands being issued to both the pilot and the UAV operator. The latter was based at San Javier, and was communicating with local air traffic controllers and regional control in Barcelona.
As well as demonstrating its ability to report to ATC, the Heron also conducted a demonstration of its maritime patrol capabilities to the Spanish air force and Guardia Civil. Sensor data was relayed in real time via IAI’s CRISP secure Internet communications link to control rooms within both organizations. IAI had previously demonstrated the Heron to the Spanish air force and Guardia Civil in a campaign undertaken in the Canary Islands in conjunction with Indra. The Spanish company already operates the smaller IAI Searcher UAV on behalf of the air force in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, IAI is shortly to deliver a UAS Mission Trainer (UMT) to the Israeli air force to help the service meet increasing demands for UAV crews. The UMT, which was developed initially to meet the needs of overseas Heron customers, offers a range of high-fidelity training and simulation features. As well as basic training, it can be used for full mission crew and multi-team training and configured for a wide range of UAVs and payload systems.