Italian Air Traffic Controllers debut RPAS flight in civil airspace
Following the recent first test for the flight safety of the unmanned air vehicles into civil airspace within the MIDCAS programme, the first live flight trial of a drone, always using the Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi’s Sky-Y unmanned aerial vehicle and taking off from the Grazzanise Italian Air Force Base, has been carried out involving ENAV (Ente Nazionale Assistenza al Volo), the Italian Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP).
The flight trial is part of the activities envisaged by the larger MedALE (Mediterranean ATM Live Exercise) project, which is one of nine Integrated Remotely Piloted Aircraft System demonstration activities funded by the SESAR Joint Undertaking.
Aiming to verify the feasibility of the integration of the unmanned aerial vehicles, defined RPVs (Remotely Piloted Vehicles) into civil airspace, ENAV personnel, located at the military ground radar station in Grazzanise, not far from Naples, and at the Naples-Capodichino civil airport, executed a live demonstration with air traffic controllers simulating a normal civil airspace procedure for the Sky-Y RPAS. The instructions for route and altitude changes aimed to simulate typical interaction with normal air traffic, preventing conflict situations. In addition, emergency procedures, such as command and control link loss and loss of engine power, were also tested.
For the MedALE flight trial, the Finmeccanica- Alenia Aermacchi Sky-Y RPAS was configured to support interaction between the pilot at the ground station and the Civil Air Traffic controllers, aiming to demonstrate the possibility of managing a RPAS in nominal and emergency conditions.
The main modification to the Sky-Y ground station was the addition of a display showing “surrounding real traffic” information, via the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast IN (ADS-B IN) provided by Finmeccanica-Selex ES – a partner of the MedALE Consortium which has supported the hardware and software integration of the new capabilities.
All the modifications were certificated by the ENAC (Italian Civil Aviation Authority) who granted the necessary Permit to Fly in order to perform the flight exercise.