One Step Closer To The Coexistence Between Large Drones And Planes

In the context of SESAR2020 Project 03 SUMO – “Integrated Surface Management”, members of Solution 09 – “Surface Operations by RPAS” recently completed a gaming exercise, led by ENAV, exploring how Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or large drones could be enabled to operate safely and efficiently on the airport surface, integrating with manned aircraft and operating in full compliance with air traffic control (ATC) requirements and rules.

During this two-day workshop at ENAV Airport Center in Napoli Capodichino, RPAS Pilots, ATCOs and human factors, safety and drone experts belonging to the ENAV and its Linked Third Parties (Techno Sky, IDS, NAIS) looked at the technical capabilities and procedural means needed to enable drones to comply with ATC instructions, and to integrate with other manned traffic into surface operations.

Specific use cases related to “taxi-in” and “taxi-out” operations in both nominal and contingency situations (loss of command and control, loss of communication and datalink) were assessed based on the Taranto Grottaglie Airport environment. In addition, the integration of an interactive mock-up of Airport Moving Map (AMM), developed by NAIS, into a drone pilot Ground Control Station (GCS) was also assessed. The map, through different functionalities, provides all relevant information to help the RPAS pilot to determine the drone’s position on the ground in relation to runways, taxiways and airport structures and all other vehicles moving on the airport surface, without reference to paper charts. The AMM allows to improve the pilot’s situational awareness and to reduce her/his workload.

The workshop provided important information on the concept evolution focusing on safety and human performance KPA. Focus group, brainstorming and questionnaires were used to collect Controllers and Pilots’ opinions on the concepts addressed in the validation. This feedback will be translated in terms of Operational Requirements and/or Recommendation.

The gaming exercise was the precursor of the real-time simulations planned in 2019 to validate the solution to the next level.

Picture: Airport Moving Map developed by NAIS