As part of the joint Airspace4All/NATS Drone Infringement Safeguarding Project, City Airport (Manchester Barton) was the venue for an evening flight programme on Sunday 18th August 2019 where a drone and three GA aircraft, all equipped with electronic conspicuity flew a carefully planned exercise of circuits and circuit joins in the Barton ATZ to evaluate the efficacy of ADS-B for drones in the real world GA environment.

The above video clip of the Barton ATS ADS-B Traffic Display shows the one hour flight programme, which took place outside normal airfield opening hours, compressed into less than a minute. The drone, callsign PING02, flew within the bounds of the airfield and can be seen in the centre of the ATZ display on the right half of the screen. (To show video at full scale, move your cursor over the video to bring up control panel across bottom of video and click icon on far right of panel to expand to full screen.)

Quadcopter equipped with ADS-B (photo by EJS Aerial)

The drone was configured to broadcast and receive ADS-B, making it electronically conspicuous to the GA aircraft while also receiving ADS-B traffic information on the three GA aircraft that were flown. The GA aircraft were also equipped with ADS-B In & Out so were capable of receiving traffic information on each other and the drones.

All the while Barton Information was providing an Aerodrome Flight Information Service aided by their ADS-B Traffic Display provided under the Airspace4All GA Airfield ATS ADS-B Traffic Display Trial.

In-cockpit display of ADS-B traffic information, including drone – callsign PING02.

The flight programme was researching the use of ADS-B for drones in the GA environment, gathering information on the reliability and range of drone ADS-B broadcasts and visual acquisition by GA pilots. The flight programme was undertaken by Barton ATS staff (who are also GA pilots) plus EJS Aerial (drone pilot) supported by Barton ATS, Airspace4All and NATS R&D. ADS-B equipment for the drones has been kindly loaned by uAvionix. We aim to publish the report on the Drone Infringement Safeguarding Project by the end of October 2019.

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