AirMap, Raytheon Make Skies Safer for
November 4, 2019
Raytheon signed a strategic agreement
with AirMap to collaborate on safely bringing small unmanned aerial
systems, or drones, into the National Airspace System.
If you’re in Washington, D.C., and
thinking about flying your new drone, maybe to share some moments on
social media, then think again. You might get arrested, fined or even
That’s because the FAA enforces a “No Drone Zone” within a
15-mile-radius ring in the National Capitol Region. It's among a number
of other airspace restrictions for drones, including areas over
stadiums, military bases, prisons, national landmarks, nuclear power
plants and near airports.
The mobile app AirMap can help avoid trouble. It shows drone pilots
where it’s safe to fly and where it’s not.
In June, Raytheon signed a strategic agreement with AirMap to
collaborate on helping users safely fly small Unmanned Aerial Systems,
or drones, in the National Airspace System.
“Currently, the FAA is making the rules concerning operating drones, but
is allowing companies like AirMap to help manage flight planning, get
authorizations to fly in restricted airspace and help pilots ensure they
comply with rules and restrictions,” said Kip Spurio, Raytheon managing
director of air traffic systems. “With the proliferation of drones, we
think that the FAA will need to get more involved so there aren’t
conflicts between manned aircraft and drones.”
Last year, the FAA forecast that the number of commercial, small,
unmanned aircraft would reach 452,000 by 2022. However, drone sales have
escalated faster than expected and the agency now expects to surpass
that number by the end of 2019 or early 2020. The FAA estimates there
are about 1.35 million recreational drones currently flown by hobbyists,
a total that is expected to grow to 1.66 million by 2023.
“There are more commercial drones than the number of registered civilian
aircraft and military aircraft,” Spurio said. “Commercial drone
operators are what we’re focusing on now, because they could be flying
multiple times every day, where a hobbyist might get their drone out
once or twice a month, if that.”
According to an FAA report, commercial drones are regularly used to
carry out research and development, execute training-education missions
and film events, and conduct industrial and utility aerial inspections.
Drone use among the real estate, construction, agriculture and media
industries is growing, and state and local governments are increasingly
using drones in emergency services like search-and-rescue operations.
“Amazon is also experimenting with package delivery by drones and
hospitals have delivered organ transplants and medical supplies by
drone,” Spurio said. “We envision autonomous flight will one day be the
preeminent form of air transportation for all people and things.”
Spurio said Raytheon and AirMap have been in talks for a few years about
how to maintain safety as more drones fly in the National Airspace
System. AirMap is the leading global provider of airspace intelligence
for UAS operations, he said, with more than 250,000 registered users.
In 2018, the majority of U.S. registered commercial drone pilots used
AirMap to request more than 45,000 automated authorizations to fly in
controlled airspace. The company app also allows recreational flyers to
request such authorizations through the FAA's Low Altitude Authorization
and Notification Capability system.
Raytheon’s Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS,
which is used by air traffic controllers across the U.S. for aircraft
spacing and sequencing guidance, will be a key technology in any AirMap
and Raytheon endeavor. Drones operate at 400 feet and below, which is
within STARS coverage areas near airports.
two companies are planning a demonstration to showcase how AirMap's
unmanned aircraft traffic management, or UTM, platform can increase
safety by monitoring drone operations and manned aircraft traffic near
airports. There have been several highly publicized cases of
unauthorized drones buzzing around major international airports, both in
the U.S. and overseas.
“We believe that drones are the ideal place to begin proving out how
automation can support this future of aviation,” AirMap co-founder and
Chairman Ben Marcus said, adding that he consider Raytheon “to really be
a pioneer in air traffic management.”
The sky is no longer the limit. We’ll soon be seeing new entrants into
the National Airspace System, Marcus said, including “flying taxi”
services, space planes, and supersonic aircraft.
“I’m standing outside right now in Austin, looking in a 360-degree
direction, and I don’t see any airplanes,” he said. “The sky is this
vast, underutilized resource...Our goa