The UK’s Manchester Airport has presented the trial where unmanned drones were flown securely together with manned aircraft.

That was a live-streamed demonstration to the Royal Aeronautical Society. Codenamed as Operation Zenith, the project was arranged to showcase the real-time integration of air traffic management, ATM and unmanned traffic management, UTM in a controlled airspace.

The test was targeted at controlling the drone traffic in a sensitive area like an airport and open up the skies to commercial airspace globally.

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Manchester Airport Stages trial of drones

The programme was supported by NATS and Altitude Angel, the UK’s air navigation service provider. During the trial, Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM Airspace Management Operating System was deployed, which securely integrated daily operations of several commercial and recreational drones into controlled airspace.

GuardianUTM O/S permits software developers, air traffic control, drone manufacturers, and drone pilots to collage the UTM platform into their work and find who is currently in the sky.

At trial, GuardianUTM O/S provided all parties with a real-time moving map of all aerial activity, which the UTM system also used to transmit advance warning to nearby automated drones or the pilots in charge to check they can safely operate in close proximity.

Concurrently, the UTM system was fully integrated into the air traffic control tower at Manchester Airport and offered air traffic controllers a comprehensive view of all approved and unapproved activities.

Benoit Curdy, Association secretary-general of Global UTM stated, “The level of togetherness was very impressive. It sets a new standard. It is a huge step forward in direction of  the commercial implementation of UTM, we need this.”

After the presentation, NATS is to deploy GuardianUTM O/S as the national UTM operating system from December to offer fair and right access to the airspace for all.