In a first, NASA’s Predator drone flew solo in commercial airspace

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by timwinters, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    06.12.18 | NEWS

    NASA says its unmanned aircraft, which it uses to support Earth science missions and aeronautical technology development, has edged drones one step closer to flying in the same airspace as commercial and private planes.

    The space agency said its remotely piloted Ikhana aircraft was able today to complete its first-ever mission without an accompanying chase plane. The technology it carried could open the door to a sky where large unmanned systems safely mingle with other air traffic in order to monitor and fight forest fires or conduct emergency search and rescue operations, NASA says.

    In a statement, Ed Waggoner, the director of the agency’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program, called it “a huge milestone.”

    Piloted from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, the flight departed from Edwards Air Force Base and soon reached 20,000 feet in class A airspace, where commercial airliners fly. It was the first unmanned aircraft flight to use airborne detect-and-avoid technology to meet the intent of new FAA “sense-and-avoid” rules, in a test where all objectives were successfully accomplished, the agency said. Until now, large unmanned systems like Ikhana have required a chase plane when flying in commercial airspace.

    The Ikhana is a General Atomics MQ-9 Predator B—the canonical military drone—that NASA acquired in 2006, and named for a Native American Choctaw word meaning intelligent, conscious, or aware. Its sense-and-avoid technology, provided by General Atomics and Honeywell, includes airborne radar, an air traffic alert and collision avoidance system, a system that broadcasts information to other aircraft, and ADS-B, a surveillance system that lets the aircraft determine its position via satellite. All planes in U.S. airspace must adopt ADS-B by January 2020 to comply with FAA regulations aimed at upgrading the technology that’s used to currently track airplanes.
     
  2. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Military has been doing this for years. Unfortunately I can’t give details on how I know this.

    But let’s say someone I know flies the big drones and called me once asking some navigation questions and the route was from somewhere in the desert Southwest to somewhere in the far Northcentral.

    The thing they fly is big enough to have a transponder. ATC has them route a long way around major population areas. A very long way. But it flew many many States away with no chase planes or anything like that.
     
  3. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    The amount of knowledge you have is simply stunning. You should write a book, maybe call it “denverpilot’s Guide to all things life”
     
  4. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    ?????

    Just observations from stuff that happens. Book not required. Just live life and pay attention.

    The guy who flew the drone’s dad once joked with me, “Pay attention, there’s going to be a test!”

    It was good life advice.

    My only point was NASA touting they did it first just means they’re a tad insulated from other government operators of the same type of equipment.

    Not a big deal, government agencies do that sort of thing.

    “We flew unaccompanied in the NAS!”

    “That’s nice kid. The military plays by different rules and already did it years ago. They don’t talk about it much.”

    (Which isn’t particularly surprising, is it?)
     
  5. kkoran

    kkoran Cleared for Takeoff

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    Flying a drone in Class A airspace isn't a big deal since ATC is responsible for separation. The real problem with drones is in Class E and G (and to a lesser extend, D airspace). In this instance, the NASA drone departed Edwards AFB and probably climbed in a Restricted Area. It would be interesting to know where it landed.
     
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  6. Jared V

    Jared V Filing Flight Plan

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    is the MQ-9 a small drone?
     
  7. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    It's no state secret. The RQ-4 has been in service for a while now and it's as much a snoozer as this story. A POS of a drone I might add. It was supposed to replace the U-2 as of FY16 but it's such a POS as fieled that the USAF couldn't rely on it stand-alone vice the capes the Dragonlady still brings to the table. So much for the wave of the future.
    upload_2018-6-12_23-44-49.png
     
  8. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    It's not small. A-10 sized. Small compared to the Global Chiken, yes. Big compared to the Predator.
    upload_2018-6-12_23-52-53.png
     
  9. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude

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    Called you in what capacity? And why can't you give details?

    Nauga,
    vaguely
     
  10. Cykoguy

    Cykoguy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Didn't CBP take one into Oshkosh a few years ago?
     
  11. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    I'm thinking that if a person can't give details, good chance they can't say WHY they can't give details, but maybe I'm wrong.
     
  12. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude

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    I'm thinking along a somewhat different line.

    Nauga,
    and his filter
     
  13. Todd82

    Todd82 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Wasn't it NASA's drone doing "continuous" hurricane surveillance a couple years ago at like FL600? It had to get through the civilian airspace to get there.
     
  14. Todd82

    Todd82 Pre-takeoff checklist

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  15. Banjo33

    Banjo33 Line Up and Wait

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    Exactly as kKoran said. They have been operating in Class A for years now without a chase plane. However, they either required a chase plane to get up to it and/or back down from it or restricted airspace or TFR to spiral up/down due not being able to meet the FAA’s “see and avoid” requirement (interpretation) for non-participating aircraft. There has been one exception to this for a number of years taking place at MCAS Cherry Point, NC where Ground Based Sense and Avoid was being used to allow UAVs to transit from their Class D through Class E and into nearby Restricted Airspace without airborne chase.

    I too am mildly interested in how NASA is taking credit for doing it the first time.
     
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  16. Todd82

    Todd82 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Chase plane through a hurricane up to FL600 must have been a hell of a ride. Wasn't the P3's/WC-130's normally flying through them that's for sure.
     
  17. nauga

    nauga Pattern Altitude

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    As am I. I am aware of other examples, without security breach inadvertently alluded to by other posters :rolleyes:

    Nauga,
    who can't get pics if there's no chase ;)
     
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  18. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  19. AustinPilot

    AustinPilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    People that know actual secrets don’t go blabbing on the Internet about them in the first place.

    “Somebody knows somebody who told them some secret thing you’re not supposed to know!” :rolleyes:
     
  20. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Depends on how screwed up the secret is, wikileaks