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15 June 2005. It was announced at the Paris Air Show that a new cross-sector group has been established to prioritise and promote autonomous and UAV systems in the UK. The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVS) signed a memorandum of understanding that will see resources focused on accelerating the implementation of autonomous and UAV systems and making UK industry globally competitive. This follows the US initiative in 2004 forming the NASA-Industry Alliance Initiates UAV National Airspace Access Project.

The growth in UAVs has caused considerable concerns with regard to safety issues and the FAA and CAA is looking at at ways of allowing UAVs to fly in civil airspace equipped with collision avoidance systems and advanced lighting and IFF systems. But adding these systems causes a huge weight restriction to the addition of sensor systems on top if this which would put the 100lb payload and below system in a difficult position in being able to provide airworthiness for civil airspace and the ability to move in civil airspace. On problem in the Balkan conflict was caused by UAVs flying close to F-16 aircraft with no compliant IR lighting. As soon as the pilot came near the UAV, his night vision goggles bloomed causing some loss of aircraft

The UK group will be led by Simon Jewell, Strategic Business Development Director at BAE Systems and David Barnes, Business Development Director (Air), Thales UK.

Dr Sally Howes, SBAC Director General said, ‘I am delighted that SBAC and the UAVS have agreed on this new working arrangement. The UAVs market is developing rapidly and presents great opportunities for UK industry. The new Autonomy & UAV Systems Policy Group will ensure that industry maximises these opportunities and actively addresses the technical and regulatory barriers to their wider use.’

Membership to the group will not only come from the SBAC and UAVS Association, but will also be sought from Government and regulatory bodies and other relevant industries.

David Barnes, Chairman UAVS Association said, ‘Combining the knowledge and expertise of UAVS Association and SBAC members will give the new policy group an influential voice in determining the future exploitation of unmanned aerial vehicles. This is an extremely exciting time for the industry and the establishment of this important cross-sector group sends a clear signal about our commitment and ambition.’

The first meeting of the group will be in Autumn 2005. Co-operative events specific to member companies from the SBAC and UAVS Association will run in parallel to the cross-sector group. These will ensure that members from both organisations and throughout the supply chain have access to information about relevant policy and technology priorities and opportunities.

Objectives for the new Autonomy & UAV Systems Policy Group will include:

* Influencing UK and European Government policy.

* Developing cross-sector links, identifying opportunities for joint R&D, and sharing lessons learned in the fields of autonomy and UAV systems.

* Linking to adjacent sectors of Air Traffic Management, spectrum management and communication.

* Building and implementing communication and stakeholder management plans with Government and regulatory bodies.

The U.S. NASA-led project intends to eventually enable remotely or autonomously operated aircraft to fly safely and routinely with other aircraft within the national airspace system is being initiated this month.

The project, known as HALE ROA in the NAS, brings together NASA, the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and six aerospace firms with a direct interest in development of civil as well as military uses of uncrewed aircraft – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, AeroVironment, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Aurora Flight Sciences. The six companies form the UAV National Industry Team, the indus

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