During the flight, payload data collected from the Heron’s onboard sensors, including an AIS receiver, radar and video, were transmitted in real time to the ground control center pilot via the satellite link and further processed to enable ships’ detection and identification.
Information collected during DeSIRE tests will be analyzed and compared with safety requirements being established by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and operational requirements being set by Eurocontrol. Final results of the project are expected this summer, “with possibly more information on next steps,” says EDA spokeswoman Elisabeth Schoeffmann.
UAVs offer the potential to meet a number of civil aircraft requirements, though in Europe no framework exists for enabling remotely piloted aircraft to fly in civil airspace, in particular using beyond-line-of-sight data links.
“This situation is curbing their use and application in the civil sphere, thus making it difficult for the European industry to develop the technologies and equipment that will make their use possible in the future,” according to the news release. The DeSIRE demonstration aims to establish common requirements to serve as the basis for a future regulatory framework for remotely piloted aircraft systems in Europe. It follows a number of activities and projects initiated by the two agencies in the remotely piloted aircraft domain, including the Air4All Study and Midcas project managed by EDA and the Sinue and Esprit studies managed by ESA.