FAA to field test drone traffic management systems


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is to begin field testing new drone-traffic-management services this year as it moves towards introducing unmanned drones into the National Airspace System.

The Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) Field Test, which is due to start in the next few months, will allow the government and the drone community to continue improving standards, data-exchange methods and cybersecurity capabilities.

The FAA defines UTM as a set of services that run alongside Air Traffic Management services for manned aircraft. It is targeted toward small unmanned aircraft operations in airspace, generally flying below 400 feet, and builds on current rules and capabilities that enable airspace access and authorization.

The field testing aims to provide data and information for the FAA to use in the development of new policies and for industry to develop  standards to allow drones to routinely fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the operators. The BLVOS operation of drones is required for unmanned drone operation.

The testing, which will involve several industry partners conducting multiple drone flights in realistic test scenarios to learn more about how to manage drone traffic in varying environments.

The FAA said, “The flight tests will examine how the latest capabilities and standards will work to support the operations in the real world.”

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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