The Leidos UAS Notification Service, released last September, is now being tested with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railways to explore concepts for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations for small drones.
The service is being tested as part of the Federal Aviation Administration UAS Pathfinder Program, according to a news release. It’s being incrementally implemented and used for unmanned aerial system flights over sections of railroads in New Mexico.
UAS operators can access the Internet-based service to file flight plans for their system’s operating area, which is typically a section of rail or bridge that it’s inspecting. The service then automatically generates and sends all required notifications, including to applicable military personnel and a “Notice to Airmen.” This alerts pilots of potential hazards that could affect flight safety. Alerts are also sent to general aviation pilots flying in the same area.
“In addition to the traditional methods of inspecting railways, unmanned aircraft provide an efficient, cost-effective way to maintain their tracks,” said Mike Glasgow, Leidos Fellow, Notification Service Chief Architect, according to the release. “This process ensures all applicable parties and aircraft in the area are informed ahead of their UAS operations for safety.”
The service will expand to support other industries in the near future.
“Our Flight Service program provides a range of safety-oriented services to more than 80,000 members of the general aviation community across the country each week. This UAS notification and deconfliction service broadens that safety mission by providing pilots with the information needed to avoid conflicts as more and more unmanned aircraft take to the skies,” said Paul Engola, Senior Vice President of Transportation and Financial Solutions, Leidos Civil Group, according to the release. “We will continue to develop concepts and capabilities that enable safe integration of UAS into the airspace.”