Leidos Flight Service has created an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) service that helps safeguard the airspace by sending automatic notifications of unmanned aircraft operations to relevant groups.
The Leidos UAS Notification Service is being tested as part of the Federal Aviation Administration UAS Pathfinder Program with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railways to explore concepts for "beyond visual line-of-sight" operations of small, unmanned aircraft. Conflicts with high-speed military aircraft can arise when UAS operations cross military training routes, or when planned commercial UAS and military operations take place simultaneously. The service facilitates the resolution of these overlaps—a process referred to as deconfliction.
UAS Operators access the internet-based service to file "flight plans" for their UAS operating areas, typically a section of rail or a bridge that is being inspected. The service then automatically generates and sends all required notifications, including to applicable military personnel and a "Notice to Airmen"—which alerts pilots of potential hazards that could affect flight safety. Leidos Flight Service also sends alerts to general aviation pilots that will be flying in the same area while the UAS is operating.
The service, which commenced in September 2016, is being incrementally implemented and currently being used for UAS operations over sections of railroads in New Mexico.
"In addition to the traditional methods of inspecting railways, unmanned aircraft provide an efficient, cost-effective way to maintain their tracks," said Mike Glasgow, Leidos Fellow, Notification Service Chief Architect. "This process ensures all applicable parties and aircraft in the area are informed ahead of their UAS operations for safety."
The new service is an extension of the UAS Operating Area filing capability available at Leidos' website www.1800wxbrief.com and through web services for routine commercial UAS use. The Leidos Flight Service will expand the program to support other UAS operators in the near future.
"Our Flight Service program provides a range of safety-oriented services to more than 80,000 members of the general aviation community across the country each week. This UAS notification and deconfliction service broadens that safety mission by providing pilots with the information needed to avoid conflicts as more and more unmanned aircraft take to the skies," said Paul Engola, Senior Vice President of Transportation and Financial Solutions, Leidos Civil Group. "We will continue to develop concepts and capabilities that enable safe integration of UAS into the airspace."