Coming your way soon: a new wave of air transport

Let’s take a trip back in time—rewind 10 years.  Do you recall what it was like before ride sharing services?  The unpredictability of getting a ride when you needed one . . . having no idea who your driver is . . . or how much a trip may cost you. Today, ride sharing is common place.  It’s predictable, dependable (mostly) and you know your route and how long it will take to get there. 

 

 

Much like ride sharing, the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will soon transform from how business is conducted to how we travel.  It’s inevitable that drones will soon be part of our daily lives, but how will we enable drone services without compromising the safety and security of people on the ground, and in the air operating in close proximity? 

Watch your broadcast news, read your newspaper, scan the news alerts on your phone – we are all seeing more and more drone activity. And we will soon see drones conducting activities that today, with traditional manned aircraft, can take days or even weeks to complete.  There’s no doubt that we can all benefit from their varied missions.  For those of us in the aviation industry, we need to work collectively to find the safest way to integrate these platforms into our airspace systems.  Frank Matus, Thales Director of Digital Aviation Business Development.

There are many players to this game, from governments, to government entities such as NASA, to drone marketers such as AirMap, Google and Amazon – and all agree that drones will be a vital part of commercial and public safety missions, but how drone integration will happen from a policy and regulatory approach is less clear.  There are many approaches—the challenge will be, “which of them will be adopted”?

 

Drawing on experience in air traffic management in over 120 countries, Thales is contributing to the creation of a regulatory framework globally. “Our understanding of how to build and integrate drones, working from a common set of rules around the globe, will help us to understand how drones can be used to operate safety within the airspace structure. Frank Matus

 

“We are living in exciting times.  Aviation has traditionally been an industry that is risk adverse and innovation comes slowly and cautiously,” explains Frank Matus.

“We have Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) customers around the globe who are looking to us to help them devise an approach to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into controlled airspace deploying what industry has named UAS Traffic Management, or UTM, and leveraging the advances occurring through digital transformation.  Our priority is to ensure that by embracing innovation, we don’t compromise the safety of traditional manned-aviation operations.”

Thales offers its customers ECOsystem, a decision support platform for improved aviation operations. The platform enables ANSPs, airlines and airport operators to plan, monitor, manage and assess aviation operations – with the realization that the resulting better decisions will create better results.

 

For example, the platforms’ algorithms predict air space utilization, as well as help airlines and ANSPs reduce the impact of convective weather enroute and capacity constraints on airports.  With Thales’s UTM application, ECOsystem UTM, these same algorithms have been tailored for low-altitude integration – the airspace in which drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles, operate.  A flexible, cloud-hosted solution, ECOsystem UTM uses the latest cyber security tools for personal identification management and dynamic planning capabilities for low-altitude operations. 

 

 

Frank Matus explains, “Air traffic management of manned and unmanned vehicles is truly an ecosystem.  When we developed the ECOsystem platform, we knew that aviation needed increased automation – and our objective was to increase predictability for manned aviation.  We now know that ECOsystem is a solution that will help address the challenges of UAS integration, as well.   Advancements in algorithms to integrate digital data from multiple sources, aggregate it and turn it into information to streamline air traffic operations is transforming our industry.  Digital transformation in aviation is not only a reality, it’s a necessity.”

This article is part of a series published for the Farnborough International Airshow in England, 16-22nd July 2018.