NUAIR Alliance partners with Thales for UAS traffic management

By Patrick C. Miller | September 26, 2018

The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUIAIR) Alliance has signed a multi-year collaboration agreement with Thales—an international air traffic management company—to help integrate unmanned aircraft into controlled airspace.

NUAIR is a coalition of New York and Massachusetts aerospace and academic institutions. The agreement with Thales also supports the New York UAS test site’s 50-mile UAS traffic management (UTM) corridor between Rome and Syracuse, New York.

Thales is working with NUAIR at the Griffiss International Airport test site near Rome, New York, to examine how advancements in UTM technology could provide a glimpse into future airspace automation capabilities. Thales will do this by integrating the entire airspace situation into its software solution for NUAIR to enable the tracking of unmanned flights and keep operators a safe distance from manned aviation.

“This partnership helps advance the critical tools needed for beyond visual line of site testing; these are capabilities not found at any other test site in the nation,” said Major Marke “Hoot” Gibson, NUAIR CEO. “This region is leading the industry and attracting partners from across the globe due to investments being made by New York State. We look forward to working with Thales and deploying this industry-leading technology in coming months, taking our capabilities to a new level.”

According to NUAIR, Thales brings other key capabilities for the safe integration of drones into the national airspace system, including cyber security and the concept of centralized, airspace management for drone operations to ensure the safety and security.  

“No other location offers what New York does in the advancement of UAS traffic management and integration,” said Frank Matus, Thales director of strategy and business development. “Thales provides a unique value proposition to NUAIR. We are involved in airspace integration activities at a global level, enabling us to leverage global advancements while also actively promoting the region and the exciting technology and policy advancements taking place here.”

The agreement follows a recent notice from the FAA naming Thales an approved partner supporting its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system. The Thales LAANC system software enables small UAS operators to access airspace safely and efficiently by receiving authorization from the FAA in a matter of minutes in contrast to the nearly 90-day approval process in place prior to LAANC

As one of only five companies approved by FAA to provide LAANC services, Thales will provide tools to plan flight operations for commercial drone users at more than 225 airports across the U.S. Thales established a presence in Central New York at Syracuse University in 2017 as part of a broader UTM initiative to partner with organizations advancing UTM globally.

At the 2018 New York Symposium hosted by NUAIR this month, the organization a contract award to SRC Inc. to provide surveillance equipment and services for phase two of the Initial Operating Capability (IOC) of the Unmanned Secure Autonomous Flight Environment (U-SAFE) corridor project. This agreement marks a step forward in the implementation of the U-SAFE project to enable large-scale, high-density, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight operations of both manned and unmanned aircraft in the New York UAS corridor.

SRC’s Gryphon Skylight UTM service will provide the airspace surveillance and tracking capabilities necessary to implement a high-volume UTM corridor.