Honeywell, in collaboration with Pipistrel, a Textron company and a leading electric aircraft manufacturer, ENAV, an Italian air navigation service provider and D-Flight, an Italian-based company providing air traffic management services for drones, marked a significant milestone in advancing the operation of remotely piloted aircraft within European airspace. The collaboration has resulted in a successful demonstration of Ground Control Station technology using a multi-copter drone at Gorizia Airport in Italy.
The key for the success of the emerging advanced air mobility sector is tied closely to the safe operation in both the air traffic management (ATM) environment and the relatively new U-space environment. U-space uses a set of new services based on a high degree of digitisation, automation of functions and specific procedures created to safely allow a large number of drones within an airspace. The recently completed demonstration is part of the SESAR Digital Sky Demonstration project, U-ELCOME, whose overall aim is to support the implementation of U-space services for the safe and secure integration of drones into airspace across Europe.
Honeywell’s Ground Control Station exhibited its capabilities in a real-world setting, showcasing features like dynamic flight plan updates and adeptly handling contingency situations. When faced with challenges such as link loss or airspace alterations, the Ground Control Station, with its autonomy executive technology, proficiently diverted the drone to a secure alternate landing zone. During the demonstration, D-flight rendered pivotal U-Space services, emphasising the functionality of flight plan submissions, activation, and real-time data sharing on surrounding traffic and air-space availability.
The demonstration positions the contributing companies at the forefront of advancing technologies that operate beyond the visual line of sight utilised by pilots on traditional aircraft (often referred to as BVLOS technologies in aviation).