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13 Sept 05. Co-funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the UAV National Industry Team (UNITE), the Access 5 Project will begin its first technology flight tests later this month, operating an optionally piloted aircraft within restricted airspace in the vicinity of Edwards Air Force Base in California. The vision of the project – to operate high altitude, long endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) routinely, safely, and reliably in the National Airspace System (NAS) – has the active support of the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security as well as each of the UNITE member companies which includes the six leading UAS manufacturers in the U.S. The project’s step one objective is to develop recommendations for routine access and operation of UASs above 43,000 feet in the NAS. In support of this, Scaled Composites’ Proteus surrogate UAS and a NASA Gulfstream aircraft have been chosen to perform six collision avoidance functions to validate the Access 5’s collision avoidance simulation, functional requirements and the project’s “equivalent level of safety” definition. Though flight tests will occur in restricted airspace, these validations are critical in identifying processes, procedures and requirements for routine, safe and reliable operations of HALE UASs in the NAS. During the flight tests, each aircraft will downlink data collected from two different collision avoidance systems integrated on each aircraft. The first system, a Traffic Collision Avoidance System II (TCAS II) gathers information on the relative positions and velocities of other aircraft in the vicinity and provides, if necessary, collision avoidance maneuver advisements. The second system is the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) system that automatically gathers and broadcasts an aircraft’s position, altitude, velocity and other parameters to any ground station or aircraft. Once the data from each collision avoidance system is received in the ground control station, it will then be fed through an Access 5-developed algorithm and sent directly to an Access 5-developed collision avoidance pilot display. The raw data from the systems will be used to validate several UAS collision avoidance functions that were simulated previously by the Collision Avoidance (CA) work package. Data collected will also be analyzed by the Command, Control and Communications (C3) work package as it begins to validate its own functional requirements.

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