Drones as flying smartphones

The German air navigation service provider, DFS, and Deutsche Telekom have jointly developed a system to enable the safe and fair integration of unmanned aircraft systems into lower airspace. The technology is currently being tested in a diverse range of practical trials.

05.03.2018.- An unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) system locates drones using the mobile telecommunications network and incorporates them into an air situation display. The technology has been developed especially for drones flown beyond their operators' visual line of sight – for example, for control flights along pipelines, or for drones used in agriculture or in search and rescue missions.

Mobile data create an air situation display
Unmanned aircraft systems transmit their position data to the UTM system over the mobile network. For this, they are equipped with an LTE modem, a GPS module and a mobile transmitter. The UTM system creates an air situation display from these position data. The display shows any surrounding traffic and warns of conflicts. Prohibited areas, around airports for example, can also be included in the system.

The system can detect unmanned aircraft systems up to a height of 100 metres. An advantage of using telecommunication is that the mobile network provides complete geographical coverage.

The UTM system is based on the DFS multi-sensor tracker Phoenix, which was developed by DFS and is in use to display radar data for air traffic control. DFS adapted the tracker to correctly display the movement patterns of drones, which are significantly different to those of conventional aircraft.

Infrastructure for the lowest airspace
The system can be linked to existing air traffic control systems and warn air traffic controllers of conflicts. The system's capabilities go beyond simply locating unmanned aircraft systems, however. Chart material, prohibited areas and meteorological information are also integrated.

Data from detection systems can be added, too, meaning the system could be used as the basis for counteracting intrusive drones.

DFS and Deutsche Telekom set up the research project in 2016 and have been working on a solution for the safe and fair integration of drones in airspace since then.

Media contact:
Nanda Geelvink
Telephone +49 (0)6103 707-4164

Further information:
At the World ATM Congress in Madrid (6 to 8 March 2018) DFS shows its UTM solution at its booth no. 834. A presentation on the UTM system by DFS held by Ralf Heidger (DFS) during the show, will take place at the Tower Theatre, on 6 March, 11:20 am.

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DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,400 employees. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,000 air traffic controllers guide up to 10,000 flights in German airspace every day, about three million movements every year. The company operates control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich as well as control towers at 16 international airports in Germany. Its subsidiary DFS Aviation Services offers its products and services related to air traffic management worldwide and provides air navigation services at nine German regional airports as well as at London Gatwick Airport in the UK through its subsidiary Air Navigation Solutions Ltd.