Sizeable unmanned aircraft fly in public airspace

With the help of remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, NASA successfully flew its first mission within the National Airspace System in the absence of safety chase aircraft on Tuesday. This experiment took off out of the NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Centre located in Edwards, California. This bold step has further forwarded the United States towards bringing about normalcy in unmanned aircraft operations within the airspace which is being used by the commercial as well as the private pilots. 

Such successful flying has opened the ways for the United States for a large number of services. Some of such services involve monitoring and fighting forest fires, extending new emergency search and research operations initiatives and so on. The technology inbuilt in these aircraft can be brought down any time to serve other general aviation aircraft services as well. 

Ed Waggoner said that this flying had been a massive success in the sector of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration within the National Airspace System project team. Ed is the director of the NASA’s Integrated Aviation Systems Ed further added saying that they worked closely with Federal Aviation Administration for a few numbers of months to ensure that they adhere to all the guidelines so that this particular first flight could be made victorious.

Flights as huge as Ikhana have always used safety chase aircraft for the functioning of the unmanned aircraft since it takes the same route as that of the commercial space flights. As such Ikhana flew by adhering to the Technical Standard Order 211, Detect and Avoid Systems, of the Federal Aviation Administration.  They also followed Technical Standard order 212 which implies Air-to-Air Radar for Traffic Surveillance.

It was learned that FAA gave special permission to NASA for conducting this flight under the supervision of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization on March 30. Such a certificate would permit the pilot of Ikhana to rely on the most advanced Detect and Avoid Technology. This will ensure the fact that the remote pilot on the surface would be able to see and at the same time avoid other aircraft during the flight.

NASA has very carefully worked with its industry partners to formulate standards for Detect and Avoid Technologies which are complied with the requirements of the FAA Technical Standard orders.

The flight took off from the Edwards Air Force Base in California and entered the periphery of the controlled airspace immediately Ikhana entered into the Class-A airspace, which is predominantly the area of commercial flights at an altitude of about 20,000 feet.