UNMANNED CRAFT ACES FLIGHT TESTS PLANE SAFE NEAR OTHERS IN AIR.Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE Edwards Air Force Base, U.S. military installation, 301,000 acres (121,805 hectares), S Calif., NE of Lancaster; est. 1933. It is one of the largest air force bases in the United States and has the world's longest runway. - In a first step toward allowing unmanned aircraft Unmanned Aircraft (UA) is a term used in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) definition of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). UA refers to the aircraft portion of the system required to operate it, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. to share the skies with airliners and private planes, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), civilian agency of the U.S. federal government with the mission of conducting research and developing operational programs in the areas of space exploration, artificial satellites (see satellite, artificial), wrapped up a successful series of flight tests of a collision-avoidance system.
Researchers flight-tested a system to provide enough information to a pilot on the ground to let him maneuver an unmanned aircraft out of the way of other planes. The researchers flew aircraft ranging from a 1940s vintage Stinson to an F/A-18 Hornet The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 Hornet is a modern all-weather carrier-capable strike fighter jet, designed to attack both ground and aerial targets. Designed in the 1970s for service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. fighter toward an unmanned Proteus aircraft.
``The detection ranges were a little less than we expected, but varied greatly from about 2.5 to 6.5 nautical miles, based on the structure and radar cross-section of the target aircraft,'' said Glenn Hamilton, UAV UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
UAV Unmanned Air Vehicle
UAV Unmanned Aerospace Vehicle
UAV Unmanned Airborne Vehicle
UAV Uninhabited Air Vehicle
UAV Urban Assault Vehicle
UAV Unpiloted Aerial Vehicle (less common) subsystems project manager at NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. Dryden. ``We picked up the F/A-18 farther out farther out
Of or relating to an option contract with a later expiration date than a contract that is currently owned or being considered. For example, a contract with a May expiration date is farther out than a contract with a February expiration date of , due to its large radar signature, but because of its higher speed, it didn't give us a whole lot of extra time to make an avoidance decision. On one head-on scenario, we had a 610-knot (about 700 mph) closure speed - not a whole lot of time to decide.''
The unmanned Proteus used in the tests was built by famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites. The spindly spin·dly
adj. spin·dli·er, spin·dli·est
Slender and elongated, especially in a way that suggests weakness.
[-dlier, -dliest , odd-looking craft was fitted with a high-frequency Amphitech radar designed to detect other aircraft within a six-mile range.
NASA officials say the April 1-4 tests, sponsored by the Dryden Flight Research Center The Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), located inside Edwards Air Force Base, is an aeronautical research center operated by NASA. On March 26, 1976 it was named in honor of the late Hugh L. , gave them increasing confidence that a pilot on the ground flying an unmanned aircraft can safely detect other aircraft and avoid collisions.
More work will be required to come up with a system that could be fielded, officials say.
NASA wants unmanned aircraft for scientific and aeronautics search, but the craft must be able to operate safely and routinely within the same airspace as civilian planes.
The U.S. military also is interested in technologies that will allow the growing number of unmanned aircraft - such as the Global Hawk and Predator spy planes used in Afghanistan and Iraq - to use the same airspace as manned aircraft. That would let the unmanned aircraft be used in homeland defense, not just in foreign combat zones.
NASA is in the planning stages for continued research. The effort is aimed at safely adding unmanned aircraft into the national airspace in five years, said Dryden spokesman Alan Brown.
``It will be focusing on (flight safety) certification and operational issues,'' Brown said.
About $8 million is expected to be allocated for the research in the 2004 NASA budget. NASA is expecting the Federal Aviation Administration Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), component of the U.S. Department of Transportation that sets standards for the air-worthiness of all civilian aircraft, inspects and licenses them, and regulates civilian and military air traffic through its air traffic control and the Defense Department to contribute to the program.
For safety, the aircraft in the tests were forbidden to get within 500 feet of each other, and they kept at least a 200-foot difference in altitude.
As a backup, the Proteus was equipped with a system that detects aircraft with transponders - a device that sends out aircraft identification signals - at a range of up to 35 miles.
As another safety measure, there were pilots in Proteus' cockpit who could have taken control if needed.
In all 20 scenarios flown, the Proteus pilot on the ground was able to detect the presence of other aircraft that posed the potential for collisions and maneuver out of the way, NASA officials said.
Two scenarios using a hot-air balloon were scheduled to be included in the tests, but winds forced the team to drop those tests.