The future of drones

The aviation and technology sectors have undergone a revolution with new applications and technologies related to unmanned aerial systems, commonly called drones (UAS / UAV / RPAS). Not only because of the new possibilities of business and commercial activity that have opened in the civil market, both for large companies and for, especially, SMEs traditionally linked to the aeronautical sector, but also for new uses and applications that are already developing for this type of aircraft.

Agriculture, security or industry are just examples of some of the productive sectors of our economy where drone use is already being experienced and applied, but they are not the only ones and there will be many more. In CATEC we have been working since the beginning in research and development to promote the transfer of this technology to companies, as well as with civil and regulatory authorities in a new framework that helps to define and regulate flights and uses with this type of aircraft.

In this issue we talk specifically about two new milestones related to drones in which we have participated successfully and that make us look optimistically at the future of this sector. On the one hand, we have welcomed into our ATLAS Center in Villacarrillo, Jaen the first U-Space demonstration with drones in Spain, held under the DOMUS project, which has been a preliminary test before DOMUS final demonstrations to be held in September to testing a complete integration of drones into the airspace, participating with other aircraft. On the other hand, in recent months we have hosted different tests of the EGNSS4RPAS project for the standardization of unmanned aircraft at European level, which has sought to demonstrate the usefulness of the European positioning systems Galileo and EGNOS for drone operations. These tests have included a recent one carried out in the urban environment of the same town of Villacarrillo, given the proximity to our ATLAS center, and which have been another important milestone as it was the first in all of Europe that has followed the methodology included in the new European regulations of drones, recently approved .

In conclusion, we are in a sector of continuous technological advances that make the future of drones very promising, and that it must be integrated into the new national and Andalusian strategies for the aerospace sector development, although linked also to other sectors-, and articulated as a key element to continue promoting the growth of the productive fabric and the increase of the competitiveness of the industry and the economy in Spain and Andalusia.

Joaquín Rodríguez Grau
Director of CATEC


ATLAS will be the third european centre fully dedicated to testing technology and unmanned aircraft systems

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Its facilities will include a runway with a length of 800 meters and a width of 18 meters wide, a control room to monitor missions, and several independent hangars with space for offices, workshops, and others.

In addition, the center will have a reserved segregated airspace in the centre-east of the province of Jaén, with an approximate area of 35 x 30 km and a maximum altitude of up to 5,000 ft. (approximately 1.6 kilometres).

The activities that may be developed at this center are the following:

  • light UAS operations and tactical up to 650 kg MTOW.
  • validation of technologies for navigation, guidance and control of aircrafts.
  • validation of ATC / ATM new techniques.
  • testing and certification of UAS vehicles.
  • certification of pilots, operators and mechanics.

Potential users of these facilities are:

  • manufacturers and operators of UAS.
  • payloads developers.
  • planners and air traffic controllers.
  • regulating authorities.
  • universities and technology centers.
ATLAS will be the third european centre fully dedicated to testing technology and unmanned aircraft systems

April 6th 2011
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