Our GA Airfield ATS ADS-B Traffic Display Trial is now under way at City Airport (Manchester Barton).

This affords us the opportunity to initiate another of our projects, researching the viability of ADS-B for drones. We do not foresee this technology being applicable for all drones. Far from it. However, for those drones that may need to operate in or near airspace shared with manned aviation, having the drones electronically conspicuous via ADS-B and thus potentially visible on a traffic display screen to airfield ATS and also to pilots in the air could be an important enhancement to safety.

It is still very early days in this field. A Wireless Telegraphy Act Aeronautical Radio License is required to legally broadcast ADS-B on 1090MHz. OFCOM issue these licenses, which are normal for manned aircraft equipped with radios. However, OFCOM do not have a standard process yet covering applications for 1090MHz ADS-B for use on drones. We therefore had to apply for a temporary ‘Innovation & Research’ License, which OFCOM have granted.

The project is being jointly managed by Airspace4All and NATS in partnership with City Airport (Manchester Barton), University of Manchester and EJS Aerial (a commercial drone operator). The project is fully authorised by the CAA. uAvionix have kindly loaned us miniaturised 1090MHz ADS-B devices designed for drones. The ADS-B devices are compliant with the CAA CAP 1391 Electronic Conspicuity specification.

Ed of EJS Aerial is working with University of Manchester to get some drones kitted out to fly with an ADS-B device. Ed has kindly made the above video providing a little background information, aimed at the drone community and anyone unfamiliar with ADS-B.