Harris and Grand Sky partner on UAS BVLOS super corridor

April 23, 2019  - By
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Photo: IStock.com/valio 84sl, via FAA

Photo: iStock.com/valio 84sl, via FAA

Grand Sky Business and Aviation Park and Harris Corp. have joined forces to enable the country’s first and largest unmanned aerial system (UAS) airspace to support beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight operations and UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research.

Stretching up to 100 miles, this BVLOS “super corridor” is the most technologically sophisticated UAS airspace supported by multiple and redundant systems for cooperative and non-cooperative surveillance.

These surveillance capabilities make possible a wide range of UAS BVLOS applications in precision farming, oil and gas, infrastructure inspection, public safety, package deliveries, and others.

“Customers of Grand Sky will have access to a truly unique UAS operational capability, in addition to better facilities, comprehensive airspace surveillance, and wide operational areas,” Grand Sky Development Co. President Thomas Swoyer Jr., said. “We all benefit from efficient and safe BVLOS flight operations and a larger corridor with proven FAA collaboration and flight authorizations.”

The surveillance system combines data feeds from a network of advanced sensors and towers. Two long-range primary radars located at Grand Forks Air Force Base and at Hillsboro, North Dakota, provide detection of non-cooperative aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) secondary radars and ADS-B network in the region, as well as local Harris ADS-B Xtend sensors, add additional layers of visibility for cooperative aircrafts in the airspace.

Aviation-grade displays help pilots and electronic observers monitor the airspace environment over the BVLOS corridor and safely steer UAS from approaching manned aircraft.

The combination of best practices in aviation safety management, proven technologies and experience with BVLOS regulatory approvals will make it easy for users of the airspace to advance UAS technology commercialization and routine, efficient flight operations.

UAS operators can work with Grand Sky and Harris to develop, test, and refine a variety of complex BVLOS concepts of operations and secure waivers from the FAA for large-scale use.

A full range of UAS operations can be supported for all types and sizes of unmanned aerial vehicles along the BVLOS corridor including a variety of airspace classes and execution of diverse defense, civil and commercial applications.

“This is another first for Grand Sky and North Dakota in leading the UAS Industry,” Harris Vice President and General Manager of Commercial UAS Solutions George Kirov said. “The size and complexity of the airspace opened to UAS BVLOS operations is unmatched in the UAS industry. The sophistication of the Harris BVLOS system at Grand Sky is also unprecedented — linking Harris’ most advanced suite of surveillance and detect-and-avoid services with a variety of surveillance assets that, together, ensure the highest level of UAS aviation safety.”

This partnership lays the foundation for larger and more capable surveillance corridors to enable UAS “highways” across the state of North Dakota and in support of expanding the variety of commercial UAS operations across the United States.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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