Christina Cardoza

Jun 24, 2015 3:57:00 PM

NASA, along with its government and industry partners, has begun testing how drones will be incorporated into the national airspace. This is the third series of tests, which will include testing all the previous and new technology together for the first time.

“This is the first time that we are flight-testing all of the technology developments from the project at the same time,” said Laurie Grindle, project manager for the agency’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System (UAS-NAS) project.

UAS-NAS, the Federal Aviation Administration, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI), and Honeywell International will take part in the testing series at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with GA-ASI and Honeywell to collect flight test data that will aid in the development of standards necessary to safely integrate these aircraft into the National Airspace System,” said Grindle.

Testing has been spilt into two phases. The first phase, which began on June 17, focuses on validating sensor, trajectory and other simulation models using live data. Tests will also include an updated sense-and-avoidance system as well as a new traffic collision-avoidance program.

“Our researchers and project engineers will be gathering a substantial amount of data to validate their pilot maneuver guidance and alerting logic that has previously been evaluated in simulations,” said Heather Maliska, deputy project manager at UAS-NAS.

The second phase of testing will be conducted in August and will focus on how well the communication systems work, how the aircraft pilots itself, how the aircraft interacts with air traffic controllers, and how it well it remains clear from other aircraft.

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