Prospective Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations in the Future National Airspace System
AIAA 4th Aviation Technology, Integration and Operations (ATIO) Forum
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market is expected to grow dramatically by 2020, as military, civil and commercial applications continue to develop. The National Airspace System (NAS) is also expected to change significantly over the next 16 years, with the introduction of new technologies and procedures. Potential changes include the creation of an information management system to exchange information among Air Traffic Management users and providers, the introduction of 4-D navigation, and
... e development of alternative separation procedures. This paper compares prospective UAV applications against underlying assumptions of the future NAS. Seven UAV operational scenarios that describe how UAVs may operate in the future NAS are presented. The impact of each scenario on the future NAS is summarized, and associated issues identified. The paper concludes by describing the need for a UAV roadmap to the future, which would identify the critical steps required to ensure UAVs are fully integrated into the future NAS. In recent years, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have become a very popular aviation topic. Pick up any major aviation trade magazine and there is sure to be mention of, if not a feature article on, some aspect of UAVs. Even the mainstream media, in covering recent international conflicts, has given mass exposure to the world of UAVs. This increased awareness has helped to generate an ever-increasing set of proposed new applications for these vehicles in both civil and commercial markets. However, a number of issues must be addressed before the widespread introduction of UAVs into civil airspace. This paper examines how UAVs may operate in the National Airspace System (NAS) of the future. The unique operating characteristics and related challenges of operating UAVs in the NAS are described, the future aviation context and related assumptions regarding both the NAS and UAVs are detailed, and seven UAV operational scenarios and their associated issues and impacts are profiled. I. The Emerging UAV Market Military investment in UAV research, systems, and applied technologies is increasing, and potential uses for UAVs in civil operations, particularly for homeland security, is being investigated by federal, state, and local governments. These developments, along with growing scientific interest in UAVs, are fueling commercial interest in the unmanned market. The growing enthusiasm for UAVs is not unfounded. The vehicles offer a unique range of features, most notably ultra-long endurance and high-risk mission acceptance, which cannot be reasonably performed by manned aircraft. Coupled with advances in automation and sensor technologies, and the potential for costs savings, it is understandable that interest in and demand for UAVs is on the rise. But how this demand will manifest itself in a future market remains highly speculative.