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 April 18, 2014

Business: Lockheed to Lose 17 F-35s Under Automatic Pentagon Cuts - Pentagon will cut 17 of the 343 F-35 fighters it planned to buy from Lockheed Martin in fiscal 2016 through 2019 unless Congress repeals automatic budget cuts, according to a new Defense Department report. DOD looking for ways not to break MH-60R helo deal - The...
 
 

News Briefs April 18, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 15, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,802 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
LM-F35-hours

F-35 fleet surpasses 15,000 flying hours

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet recently surpassed 15,000 flight hours, marking a major milestone for the program.  “Flying 15,000 hours itself demonstrates that the program is maturing, but what I think is e...
 

 
nasa-cassini

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons. Images taken w...
 
 

NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on Moon’s surface

Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m., PDT, April 17. LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler telescope discovers first Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’

Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up...
 




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>