Logos Technologies conducts first UAV test flight at New York airport

By The UAS Magazine Staff | November 25, 2014

A milestone was reached in November when Logos Technologies conducted an experimental test flight of its unmanned aerial vehicle at Griffiss International Airport in New York while the airport was in operation. Partnering with the facility for the test was the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance.

“The significance of the test—aside from testing the device itself—was that we didn’t close the airspace,” says Larry Brinker, NUAIR Alliance executive director. “We were operating the UAV at the same time the tower was operating and controlling not only the UAV, but also regular manned traffic in and out.”

The UAV was a powered parafoil system, which combines a fabric wing—essentially a parachute—with an aircraft fuselage. In addition to the parafoil system’s ability to carry significant loads for its weight class, it also provides increased safety over traditional UAVs. The UAV is a test bed designed to further develop Logos’ flight control approach for inexpensively delivering supplies to dispersed units.

The Griffiss International Airport near Rome, New York, is one of six Federal Aviation Administration designated test sites. The test flight occurred in Class D airspace around the airport.

“This whole program is about airspace integration, and we were real proud that we were able to do that,” Brinker says.

A unique aspect of the Griffiss airport is that it was once a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber base and can therefore provide a large space for UAS test flights.

“We’ve set aside an area where we can test UAS, which is just off the main runway, and we stay inside that box for the UAS testing,” Brinker explains. “We’re in radio contact with the tower and the tower controls the UAS and the manned traffic the same as it would any other aircraft.”

During the test with the Logos UAV, incoming and outgoing commercial and civil traffic was occurring.

“If we’re flying a UAS task and the manned traffic comes in, that’s going to be conflicting, we get a radio call saying to put the UAV in a holding pattern, which we’ve already pre-designated, that is out of the path of the manned aircraft,” Brinker says. “When the manned aircraft is cleared, just like you would approaching a regular airport, you’re cleared to proceed.”

Wade Pulliam, director of advanced concepts at Logos Technologies, says the successful flight tests enabled Logos to collect valuable data that will be critical in the development of parafoil systems for military and commercial applications.