Virginia Will Test Drone Flight Corridors!
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to develop BVLOS drone flight test corridors in Virginia by having entered into a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with The Longbow Group foing of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) unmanned aerial system (UAS) in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Longbow consists of researchers and supporters from the city of Hampton, Virginia, Raytheon, and Hampton University, which allows students to be engaged with local cutting-edge sUAS research, testing and development.
NASA was established in 1958 as an independent agency of the U.S. federal government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and space research.
NASA’s partnership with the Longbow Group is a part of the Space Act Agreement, which will see NASA’s Langley Research Center collaborate with the Tennessee-based company “on the development of an operational concept and assess the requirements for supporting infrastructure, data sharing, and other factors needed to conduct BVLOS operations.”*
The test flights will be conducted between Langley Research Center’s CERTAIN (City Environment for Range Testing of Autonomous Integrated Navigation) facility and Longbow’s Unmanned Systems Research and Technology Center (USRTC) in Virginia.
Lou Glaab, NASA’s HDV technology leader, explains:
“When implemented, these efforts will enable the UAM ecosystem prototype assessment with longer, more complex flight routes, within the HDV subproject for AAM along with establishing operational credit for an array of advanced NASA technologies.
One major benefit will be collaborating with Raytheon and Hampton University (HU) to include radar inputs from their Skyler radar. This system will be mounted on a HU building in downtown Hampton and is designed to help enable ground-based sense and avoid, and will complement and extend our radar systems we are currently installing at NASA LaRC.
Smaller drones will be used as surrogates for passenger air taxis as the High Density Vertiplex (HDV) project plans to test the feasibility of drone taxis in urban environments. The emphasis will be on “flight testing, safety risk assessments, documentation, and collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration to enable routine BVLOS flights.”*
According to Marco Sterk, Longbow’s President and CEO:
“We are very excited about the opportunity to support this project and work with the researchers at NASA Langley in collaboration with Hampton University, City of Hampton and Raytheon. It takes a community to build a community, and that is so true when it comes to developing a local self-supporting ecosystem, involving industry, government and academia.”*
Donnie Tuck, Mayor of Hampton, Virginia stated:
“By our collaboration and support for Longbow and NASA we expect this project to not only help our existing local unmanned system businesses, but that it will also attract additional technology companies in the AAM market with their hi-tech jobs to come to our city.”*
In addition to testing BVLOS drone flight corridors, other collaborative research areas could include Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), supplemental data service providers, surveillance radars, meteorological systems, data networks, as well as command and control communication.
Longbow’s president and CEO, Marco Sterk, adds:
“It takes a community to build a community, and that is so true when it comes to developing a self-supporting ecosystem, involving local government, academia, and industry, which not only does research but can also implement and operate in this new AAM market sector in commercial aviation. This definitely directly benefits the local community.”*
NASA’s planning of developing beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone flight research corridors for the testing of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) unmanned aerial system (UAS) in Hampton Roads, Virginia will not only help existing local unmanned system businesses, but that it will also attract additional technology companies in the AAM market with their hi-tech jobs.
By having entered into a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with The Longbow Group, NASA is also making it possible for students — our next generation of pioneers of drone technology — to be engaged with local cutting-edge sUAS research, testing and development.