Australias V-TOL Aerospace has partnered with UK-based RelmaTech to conduct what they claim is the world’s first commercial flight operations of a remotely piloted airborne system (RPAS) supported by an Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) system.
On Thursday 18th August, V-TOL used one of its GosHawk RPAS to conduct routine volumetrics survey operations for its customer, New Hope Mining Group (NHG), at NHGs Jeebropilly Mine site located 1.5 nautical miles from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley, west of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. The GosHawk II Surveyor an electric fixed-wing aircraft weighing less than 7 kilogrammes was fitted with RelmaTechs SIAM (Secure Integrated Airspace Management) technology.
As part of our technology development for minimising risk to third party airspace users, we are now fitting SIAM to all our aircraft, including aircraft we build for our customers, said Mark Xavier, Director and Chief RPAS Pilot at V-TOL. As the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of the aircraft flying within RAAF controlled airspace (CTR), we are permitted to fit such technologies to our aircraft.
Thursdays RPAS operations, consisting of two flights of 2 hours and 1.5 hours duration, were carried out under V-TOLs current Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and RAAF permissions, Xavier added. It was our first commercial operations using SIAM under standard operating conditions an event we and RelmaTech believe to be a world first. That these operations took place 1.5 nautical miles from the main runway of Australias largest active RAAF base during normal F-18 and C-17 operations is also of significant importance.
RelmaTech provided RAAF Amberley Air Traffic Control with a login to the SIAM portal so they could observe V-TOLs RPAS operations in real time. Login accounts were also provided to ATC sections at RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Newcastle in New South Wales, and Oakey Army Aviation Centre, west of Toowoomba in Queensland, as V-TOL conducts RPAS operations within the Oakey CTR on a regular basis and will soon commence similar operations within the Williamtown CTR.
Because the SIAM feed from an operating RPAS can be viewed in real-time over the web, SIAM enabled Amberley ATC to have greater situational awareness of V-TOLs RPAS operating within their active CTR, said Philip Hall, Founding Director and CEO of RelmaTech. Mark, as Chief Pilot of V-TOL, was also able to monitor the flights between meetings in the Brisbane CBD, and I watched the live feed from my office in the United States. The NHG Operations Manager for the Jeebropilly site could also observe the operations on his iPad.
Last Thursdays landmark flights come just a week after V-TOL demonstrated SIAM to representatives of Defence Industries and the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland. In that demonstration, V-TOL had two RPAS flying at the same time in their training area; a V-TOL Hornet multi-rotor on a general flight test, and a V-TOL GosHawk fixed wing conducting a survey training mission. Each aircraft weigh less than 7 kgs. The demonstration included a detailed briefing and viewing of SIAMs composite live feed of the aircraft flying.
John Thynne, former Manager Safety Systems Office at CASA and now Manager Aviation Solutions at RelmaTech, says SIAM offers an operative digital substitute for ADS-B and secondary radar, thus providing an effective alternate means of situational awareness in the aviation sphere. This technology will assist in allowing the aviation industry greater scope of operations into the future.
With SIAM technology, Xavier can now monitor his company RPAS operations anywhere in the world from the Operations Room at V-TOLs Head Office in Rocklea, Queensland or wherever he is. “SIAM will enable safer and more advanced operations in the National Airspace, and we are excited to be able to make this capability available to our customers”, Xavier says. As an OEM manufacturer and operator of unmanned aircraft, we believe it should be a requirement to fit all unmanned aircraft with SIAM technology.