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Altitude Angel

Old 19th Sep 2020, 06:58
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Altitude Angel

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/s...ries-20d5vbsz0

Sky ‘corridor’ to enable mass drone deliveries

The world’s first commercial “flight corridor” for drones will be established by the end of the year, paving the way for airborne parcel delivery services.

The Times has learnt that a five-mile long aerial highway will be created south of Reading, Berkshire, that will allow drones to be operated beyond a pilot’s line of sight, a manoeuvre usually banned under existing regulations.

The corridor, a third of a mile wide, will be monitored by a new air traffic control system for small unmanned devices. The system will feed automated instructions to drones to ensure they maintain a safe distance from others in the area or change their flight path to avoid a collision. It will operate in normal airspace shared with conventional aircraft including helicopters, light aircraft and commercial jets.

Subject to approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) it is expected to be active by next year and would be the first large-scale trial of its kind.

Altitude Angel, an aviation technology company based in Reading, said that drones flying in the controlled area could be used to deliver small parcels, carry medical supplies, blood or tissue samples and survey infrastructure.

Their technology will remove a barrier that prevents the mass deployment of drones. At present drones have to be flown within a pilot’s visual range, typically up to 1,600ft. They also have to observe a maximum altitude of 400ft to avoid aircraft and must keep away from built-up areas. Drone flights beyond line of sight are allowed only in specific cases.

However, the Altitude Angel system will create a corridor that monitors drones at all times and allows them to be freely flown. Masts installed within the corridor will use radar and multiple tracking sensors to create the air traffic control system. Drones will be registered with the company, allowing them to be tracked and monitored. The platform will automatically keep drones apart and detect those at risk of a collision. Instructions such as “change flight path, hold, return or land” will be sent via the drone operator. The system will intervene if the request is not followed.

Other drones not registered with the system but still operating within the zone will be mapped and monitored, alongside other aircraft, with co-ordinates fed to the “compliant” drones to ensure they avoid collision. Initially two drones will use the zone simultaneously to test the system, travelling in either direction on a linear “motorway”. Numbers will be gradually increased to ultimately create four drone lanes in either direction and two or three highways at different altitudes.

The trial would run indefinitely, the company said, before the system was expanded across the country. The CAA is assessing its application to run the Reading trial and the company expects to get approval soon.

Richard Parker, founder and chief executive of Altitude Angel, said: “The size of this step cannot be underestimated. Beyond visual line of sight automated flight in unrestricted airspace is a very significant barrier to overcome in order to realise the vision of mass-commercial drone usage.”

Last edited by ORAC; 19th Sep 2020 at 09:03.
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Old 19th Sep 2020, 08:52
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Company announcement: 'Arrow Drone Zone' will enable automated drones and general aviation to harmoniously co-exist in a real-world environment
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Old 19th Sep 2020, 10:56
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Unless the manned aircraft in and around the corridor are also controlled they remain mere random movers. I presume therefore that this will be yet another airspace restriction to contend with in southern England hot on the heels of Southend, Farnborough, Oxford, Brize etc etc. The restrictions, cockpit workload and risk factors for GA continue to mushroom and are yet another nail in the coffin of GA and those whose livelihoods depend on it. But at least Amazon can deliver your goods even faster
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Old 19th Sep 2020, 11:41
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Originally Posted by homonculus View Post
I presume therefore that this will be yet another airspace restriction to contend with in southern England hot on the heels of Southend, Farnborough, Oxford, Brize etc etc.
Based on the Times article and the company's website, I don't think that's the case.
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Old 19th Sep 2020, 17:34
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Who is going to be held responsible if one of these drones collides with a GA aircraft?
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 05:31
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Would be interesting to see how a mass of drones cope with manoeuvring around the envelopes of a balloon festival.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 06:50
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Originally Posted by Sallyann1234 View Post
Who is going to be held responsible if one of these drones collides with a GA aircraft?
Not just GA, as the report makes clear:

Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
The Times has learnt that a five-mile long aerial highway will be created south of Reading, Berkshire, that will allow drones to be operated beyond a pilot’s line of sight, a manoeuvre usually banned under existing regulations.

It will operate in normal airspace shared with conventional aircraft including helicopters, light aircraft and commercial jets.
Heat map of LHR arrival flightpaths when operating on easterlies. One hopes the maximum drone operating altitude will take this into account:



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Old 20th Sep 2020, 09:24
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To rephrase my question. When one of these drones loses its control link, as it inevitably will, who is legally responsible for any collision and consequences?
Presumably they will be programmed to RTB on loss of link, but they will still be out of control on the way back.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 10:33
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Are they preprogrammed and flying on a fixed route or could somebody interfere with bad guidance commands in flight and redirect or jam them somehow?
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 22:07
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Can someone explain to me the point of a "corridor " ? Surely drones are only useful if they can fly to the final destination, which is anywhere if you are talking about Amazon-type deliveries. It would be totally pointless to fly along a corridor to drop something, if it then has to be transported on from that point.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 06:34
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Sallyann1234

You could turn the question around and ask whether - for the first time ever AFAIK - a GA flyer, or come to that a commercial pilot, is going to be expected to see and avoid a drone and be held responsible for the consequences of a failure to do so.

Assuming the answer to that is "No", then which party or parties does that leave ?
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 08:23
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Anyone else feel that mass drone delivery won’t be popular? One small drone (DJI, for example) is noisy enough for people over a wide area to look up, and be annoyed by it. Hundreds of large commercial drones? That’s going to be awful
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 08:26
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Exactly, people will not tolerate these things buzzing overhead all day. I can think of one country where someone will inevitably bring out their shotgun and take some unfriendly action.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 08:43
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It would reduce the number of 'white vans' on the roads. What it would do for employment is a scary thought.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 09:08
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This is a trial permitted by the CAA to assess the practicality and safety of the system, so necessarily limited to one area.
If it proves successful the operator will not doubt want it extended to more general areas. How it could work over e.g. London with airport flight paths and frequent helicopter operations is anybody's guess. But that's where the greatest demand is for parcel deliveries.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 09:32
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I'd guess they'd use the same system as the new Garmin get you home software - broadcast to ATC if they lose the link
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 09:58
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Is there really anything that needs to be delivered that quickly? Organs for transplantation or emergency drugs perhaps, but this? I don't get it.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 10:35
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c52

I imagine the drones will require a hefty amount of maintenance if done at any scale.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 10:55
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Yes, it's a mistake to assume that it's going to take lots of multi-drop white vans off the road.

But medical supplies to remote or over-the-water locations, perhaps - q.v. the recent Isle of Wight trials.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 11:01
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Well, I don't know if that will mean more masts, or whether the equipment can be co-located with telephony-masts, but neither will be particularly popular. If you combine this with the very irritating drone noise, then I foresee major resistance. I much prefer the notion of having parcel-stations where you can recover your item from a luggage-locker with a code transmitted by the courrier company. There will undoubtedly be lots of available spaces everywhere now for purchase.
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