Computer-driven air traffic control could take urban air from concept to reality

How new subsectors of the airspace which utilise built in vehicle-to-vehicle contact could turn unmanned flight from vision to reality

A bold new approach to air traffic control networks could turn futuristic visions of unmanned flight and urban vehicles into reality, according to the Vice President of global management consultancy, Anthony DiNota.

With already crowded skies, DiNota said that new, safe ways would have to be found to enable economic and societal benefits of incorporating drones, unmanned and urban air mobility concepts into the airspace. DiNota said: “The regulation of the airspace is of paramount importance to keep the airspace safe, to continue to have an airspace that is very reliable and predictable in moving passengers around the world.”

Next gen control technologies will allow for more airspace users

He said new regulations and technological change were vital to enable the arrival of the emerging unmanned and urban air market: “I think there has to be there has to be a step change in technology as well. A lot of the air traffic control networks that we rely on today are 1940s/1950s technology.”

“They require quite a bit of human interaction and, as we move onto next gen and other future airspace control technologies, that will allow for more users to be within the airspace. There’s opportunities to create subsectors of the airspace that will allow for vehicle-to-vehicle deconfliction and vehicle-to-vehicle contact that would perhaps eliminate the need for contact with a human.”

DiNota added that the future for aerospace control could be part computer-driven, rather than solely the job of human operators with compliance to air traffic control regulation inbuilt into vehicle certification.

He said: “In theory, that could be the case, where you had certain parameters that were established within the flight guidance system of these vehicles and certain control laws that would allow them to understand what is an is and is not allowable. If they were certified and proven to be 100 per cent accurate and in compliance with those control laws, that could very well be a future vision that becomes a reality.”

UAM will become reality within next decade

DiNota said it had taken the British industry more than 100 years to evolve from its birthplace in Farnborough, using balloons for trial flights, to the “sophisticated globally deployed air transportation network” that we see today.

He added: “I don’t think its going to take 100 years to get the vision of incorporating unmanned aircraft into that airspace and utilise them, but I do think its coming and is something we will start to see in the next few years and to see at scale in the next 10 years.”

 

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