Tech

March 29, 2012

NASA flight tests New ADS-B device on Ikhana UAS

Tags:

NASA photograph by Tony Landis
NASA's Ikhana, a modified General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Predator B, glides in for landing at Edwards Air Force Base at the conclusion of the first checkout test flight of the new ADS-B Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast aircraft tracking technology on an unmanned aircraft system.

NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., flew its Ikhana MQ-9 unmanned aircraft with an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, device, for the first time March 15.

It was the first time an unmanned aircraft as large as Ikhana – with a 66-foot wingspan, a takeoff weight of more than 10,000 pounds, and a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet – has flown while equipped with ADS-B.

ADS-B is an aircraft tracking technology that all planes operating in certain U.S. airspace must adopt by January 2020 to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

NASA photograph by Sam Kim

NASA Dryden engineers and technicians bench-check the ADS-B unit and software interface.

It also was the first flight of hardware for the NASA Aeronautics research project known as ‘UAS in the NAS,’ which is short for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System.

The equipment performed well during a flight lasting nearly three hours in restricted air space over Dryden’s Western Aeronautical Test Range, which is part of Edwards Air Force Base and Naval Air Warfare Center China Lake.

Being equipped with ADS-B enables NASA’s Ikhana to provide much more detailed position, velocity, and altitude information about itself to air traffic controllers, airborne pilots of other ADS-B equipped aircraft flying in its vicinity, and to its pilots on the ground. Currently, only air traffic controllers can see all the aircraft in any given section of the sky.

The ADS-B checkout flight aboard Ikhana kicked off a series in which researchers will collect ADS-B data while performing representative air traffic control-directed maneuvers.

As part of a collaborative effort, FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., recorded ADS-B data from the flight and will help analyze the performance of the system installed in the aircraft. Researchers also evaluated new ADS-B laptop software for displaying surrounding air traffic information to the UAS pilots on the ground.

“ADS-B is a cornerstone capability required in the NextGen, and understanding its performance and suitability for integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system is critical to the overall goals of the project,” said Sam Kim, deputy manager of integrated test and evaluation for NASA’s UAS in the NAS Project.

Garmin image

The Garmin GDL-90 ADS-B unit generates aircraft position data that is displayed on the pilot’s multi-function instrument displays.

Developing technologies that will enable unmanned aircraft to fly safely among other planes in the nation’s skies is the job of Kim’s team.

ADS-B is a key component of the largest transformation of air traffic control ever attempted in the United States. Known as the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, it is a multi-billion-dollar technology modernization effort that will make air travel safer, more flexible and more efficient. As the system gets better, its capacity will grow and the demand for different types of air transportation – even unmanned aircraft – will increase.

Current tracking devices aboard aircraft are called transponders, but the ADS-B isn’t just a new-fangled transponder. It provides much more detailed and accurate information to air traffic controllers, and will enable navigation by satellite in addition to the current system of ground radars.

Ground radars interact with transponders once every four to 12 seconds in order to get an aircraft’s position, velocity, and altitude. In contrast, the ADS-B constantly and automatically broadcasts information every second to air traffic controllers. The more frequent updates, coupled with information updated through the Global Positioning System, result in much greater accuracy in the display of an aircraft’s position, velocity and altitude.

The effort is part of the Dryden-led UAS in the NAS Project, which is designed to contribute capabilities to reduce technical barriers related to the safety and operational challenges of unmanned and passenger-carrying airplanes sharing the same air space.

The UAS in the NAS Project is managed from Washington by the Integrated Systems Research Program office in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

NASA photograph by Sam Kim

Engineers and technicians check the ADS-B equipment following its installation on NASA Dryden’s Ikhana (Predator B) unmanned aircraft.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines November 26, 2014

News: When Hagel leaves, new SecDef faces big questions about the military’s futureĀ - President Obama’s new pick to run the Pentagon will face a dizzying set of challenges affecting the Defense Department’s mission, budget and culture. Who will be the next Secretary of Defense?- Following the Nov. 24 surprise announcement from the White House, the...
 
 

News Briefs November 26, 2014

Navy to decommission two more ships in Puget Sound The Navy recently decommissioned the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham at Everett, Wash. It will be towed to Bremerton and scrapped. The Daily Herald reports the Navy also plans to decommission another ship at the Everett homeport and also one stationed in Bremerton. Naval Station Everett...
 
 

NASA airborne campaigns tackle climate questions from Africa to Arctic

NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into how different aspects of the interconnected Earth system influence climate change. NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

16T Pitch Boom reactivated to support wind tunnel tests

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend The Pitch Boom at the AEDC 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) was recently reactivated. This model support system is used in conjunction with a roll mechanism to provide a combined pitch...
 
 

Northrop Grumman supports U.S. Air Force Minuteman missile test launch

Northrop Grumman recently supported the successful flight testing of the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system. The operational flight test was conducted as part of the Air Force Global Strike Command’s Force Development Evaluation Program. This program demonstrates and supports assessment of the accuracy, availability and reliability of the...
 
 
army-detector

Scientists turn handheld JCAD into a dual-use chemical, explosives detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks by adding the ability to detect explosive materials to the Joint Chemical Age...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>