Categories: General
      Date: mar  2, 2016

CRIDA, through the project DEMORPAS, has participated in the execution and analysis of the first flight of a Remotely Piloted Aerial System, RPAS, in a controlled airspace in Spain.

DEMORPAS, a demonstration project of the SESAR program co-funded by the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU), was focused on the assessment of the key factors to integrate RPAS, commonly known as drones, in a non-segregated airspace by the execution of two flight trial campaigns in 2015. During the first set of flight trials, intended as a familiarization step, the RPAS ALO, developed by INTA, operated alone in an ATC environment. In the second trial, the ALO shared the airspace with a manned aircraft owned by INTA and piloted by Spanish Air Force pilots. To achieve these goals, DEMORPAS relayed on multidisciplinary consortium of Spanish aeronautic companies that besides CRIDA was integrated by ISDEFE as project coordinator, ENAIRE, INTA and FADA-CATEC.

Given current regulatory limitations to operate RPAS in Spain, the trials were executed in a segregated airspace near Matacán Air Base (Salamanca) that was used as operations centre. However, the exercises and the environment were defined to emulate the coexistence of RPAS and manned aircraft in a non-segregated ATC airspace.

DEMORPAS made possible to integrate a RPAS and a manned aircraft in the same controlled airspace and CRIDA, relaying on its sound experience, has led the assessment of human factors (air traffic controllers and remote pilots) and the analysis of trajectories for both flight trials.

For the first time in its history, CRIDA has broadened its human factor assessments to RPAS pilots, studying the key aspects for the integration in an ATC environment and their limited situational awareness due to not being on-board.

The flight trials have proved the need to increase the training of RPAS pilots in ATM procedures, communications and aeronautic phraseology as well as to include RPAS performances and specific emergency manoeuvres that are different to those of manned aircraft, in Air Traffic Controllers training. This is crucial to ensure the safe integration of RPAS in non-segregated airspace and it needs to be further studied in coming tests or trials.

In addition, CRIDA has compared for the first time the trajectory represented in the radar screen of controllers with the trajectory, based on GPS, presented to the remote pilot in the ground control station.

The integration of RPAS in more complex environments will continue its development path in the framework of SESAR2020 program, where CRIDA will contribute with the gained expertise.

David Escribano.