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CAA Says Watchkeeper Controlled Airspace Flight Was Isolated Event

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CAA Claims Watchkeeper Controlled Airspace Flight Was Isolated Event (excerpt)

(Source: FlightGlobal; posted Oct 21, 2015)

By Beth Stevenson


LONDON --- The recent flight of a Thales Watchkeeper in controlled airspace in Wales was simply “a one-off”, and a lot more work must be done before unmanned systems of its size can routinely fly through national airspace, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says.

The unmanned air vehicle (UAV) flew under the jurisdiction of air traffic control for the first time on 30 September for a sortie of 1h in Wales. The flight took place under the Civil Airspace Integration of remotely piloted aircraft system in Europe effort, which is part-funded by the Single European Sky ATM Research joint undertaking.

However, Gerry Corbett, the CAA’s programme lead for UAVs, told the Commercial UAV Show in London on 20 October that it was only a demonstration, and a lot of planning and funding was required in order for the British Army aircraft to be permitted to carry out the sortie.

“It doesn’t mean that Watchkeeper is now routinely flying through controlled airspace,” Corbett says. “This was after all a military aircraft with ‘army’ written down the side.”

Watchkeeper is certified to fly in controlled airspace, but Corbett noted that its single engine would prevent this being a routine operation for safety reasons: “As soon as that engine fails, it would drop out of the airspace.” (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the FlightGlobal website.

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