RPAS Traffic Management (RTM) is an air traffic management ecosystem of services. Another name for RTM is Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM). Remotely piloted aircraft are often called “drones” by the general public.
These systems can manage remotely piloted aircraft operating in Canadian airspace. They have features like RPAS tracking, remote identification, and conflict resolution.
With new technologies and uses for RPAS emerging, RTM services will be developed, rolled-out and introduced into use.
In June 2020, Transport Canada put out a call for proposals to innovators to help set the requirements for, and the deployment of services needed for Canada’s RTM system. As a result of this process, proposals from SkySensus and AirMarket were selected.
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SkySensus is a group of partners led by Peraton and also includes the Foremost UAS Test Range, Canadian UAVs, Aerium Analytics, and UxS Consulting. For their participation in the RTM trials, the SkySensus consortium has partnered with Unifly. Their trial proposal, “RTM Enabler I”, consists of several phases of RPAS flight operations with objectives such as pipeline inspection, obstacle limitation surfaces (OLS) detection, foreign object debris (FOD)detection, and runway marking analysis. This trial will derive value from the deployment of Unifly’s Broadcast Location and Identification Platform (BLIP – a form of Remote ID) as well as the collection of rich data sets to inform the performance levels with each of their objectives. Data sets include registration/remote ID, flight preparation, surveillance/tracking, ground radar based Detect and Avoid (DAA), cellular data links, contingency management, flight/conflict management, and communications.
Phase 1 (starting in October 2020) of their trial will be facilitated by BVLOS Special Flight Operating Certificates (SFOCs) which are already in hand for trials at the Foremost Test Range and at Fort McMurray. Phase 1 will also include some Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) work (OLS/FOD) at Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary airports. Phase 1 data will be used to finalize planning for Phase 2 which will move into BVLOS trials at Class G, E, and C aerodromes in spring of 2021.
AirMarket is a Canadian company specializing in the integration of RTM solutions. They are working with Telus, Astra, ClearSky, Involi, DroneLogbook, Omnispace, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada to conduct their proposed Energy RTM Trials. The operations in this trial will also be carried out in a phased manner, and primarily includes inspection of pipelines and other energy infrastructure. The intent of this trial is to validate the RTM service capability of Telus’ cellular network hardware with specialized RTM software integrated by AirMarket and its partners.
These trials will test such RTM services including flight approvals, realtime drone tracking, airspace surveillance and monitoring, and de-confliction. AirMarket is trialing terrestrial and satellite cellular hand-offs for control and data links to bring ubiquitous cellular coverage to remote parts of Canada. The industry benefits of these trials will facilitate a greener more efficient approach to fixed assets inspection and monitoring, through the use of “connected robotics” in BVLOS operations and cellular RTM services.