MIDCAS: SKY-Y's flight campaign successfully completed
Ten years after the first flight of the Alenia Aermacchi Sky-X, the first European UAV over one tonne class, Partners in the European Mid-Air Collision Avoidance System (MIDCAS) programme have successfully completed at Grazzanise Air Force Base in Italy flight-test campaign performed on a Sky-Y, in order to test and prove the capabilities of the Sense & Avoid system.
The MIDCAS is an international research project whose participants are Sweden (project leader), Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the European Defence Agency (EDA), and whose objective is to identify basic solutions to allow collision avoidance between Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and the traditional manned aircraft, which operate in non-segregated air spaces.
Within the MIDCAS programme, Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi has the complete responsibility of the experimental campaign in Italy's flights tests performed on the SKY-Y, equipped with a diesel engine with thrust propeller and specifically developed to be a demonstrator of innovative technologies of a MALE (Medium-altitude long-endurance) aircraft for surveillance and patrol missions.
Besides the SKY-Y, the flight tests have also regarded the use of C-27J, whose role within the demo scenario was to represent "the intruder", an aircraft simulating the intrusion in the RPA's flight path: in other words a target "to be avoided" for the collision avoidance system.
During the demo several realistic scenarios of operation for the RPA have been evaluated, of both separation from other aircraft and of collision avoidance. The separation scenarios selected had the aim of proving the system’s effectiveness in suggesting, each time, to the pilot seated in the Ground Control Station the more suitable manoeuvre to avoid any type of conflict with the "intruder" flying in the same airspace. Instead, in the collision-avoidance scenarios, the intruder was forced to violate the safety airspace area of the SKY-Y that, automatically without the pilots' intervention, put into effect the escape manoeuvre calculated by the system.
In addition to the full technical and technological success, the demonstration has reported also a new important step forward for the RPA technology, as the SKY-Y was the first flight with an automatic collision avoidance system based on non-cooperative sensors (RADAR + Electro-Optical) of a remotely piloted aircraft "against" a piloted aircraft.