AiRanger Unmanned Aircraft Gets Sagetech’s Detect and Avoid System

Sagetech Avionics and American Aerospace have signed a memorandum of understanding to integrate a detect and avoid system on the AiRanger unmanned aircraft. (Sagetech)

Sagetech Avionics and American Aerospace ISR (AA ISR) are partnering to integrate Sagetech’s Detect and Avoid (DAA) system on AA ISR’s AiRanger unmanned aircraft system (UAS), according to a March 10 press release from the company. 

The prototype will begin testing by the end of 2021 with a certifiable prototype ready in Q1 of 2022, according to the release. 

“Through the commercialization of our DAA capability, partnerships like our work with AA ISR on the NASA SIO help inform the appropriate physical configuration, such as interfacing with airborne sensors like radar, and ensuring the performance of the system meets the needs of the AiRanger platform as well as the intent of NASA’s integration efforts,” Tom Furey, CEO of Sagetech Avionics, told Avionics International via email. “Once the system is complete, it will be compatible with most aircraft platforms without special modification requirements.” 

Furey said Sagetech’s DAA system which at its core is an Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) will be certifiable by the Federal Aviation Administration to TSO-c211. 

“As members of various RTCA and ASTM committees, we help both inform the standards-making bodies of technological capabilities, and design our products to meet the emerging standards,” Furey said. “Other systems identifying themselves as Detect and Avoid solutions are really sensors, which will provide input into a certifiable, ACAS-based solution.” 

The DAA system uses a transponder, interrogator, an ACAS-based DAA computer, software package, and other essential components, according to the release. 

“ACAS takes cooperative traffic input from passive or active surveillance sensors, which are part of our solution and ensure compatibility with manned aircraft in the NAS [national airspace],” Furey said. “Other input comes from non-cooperative sensors such as radar, EO/IR, or acoustic sensors, which are third-party sensors.  The ACAS/DAA system then fuses these sensor inputs, and provides avoidance maneuvers based on sophisticated algorithms developed by MIT Lincoln Labs and Johns Hopkins APL and approved by the FAA.”

The addition of Sagetech’s DAA system on AA ISR UAS will get the AiRanger closer to receiving type certification from the FAA. 

“Type certifications require proving the safety of the entire aircraft solution to the FAA,” Furey said. “Using components that can be TSO’d (FAA component level certification) simplifies the certification process by eliminating the need to prove the efficacy of individual subsystems. A certifiable DAA system will be critical to type certifications which allow routine BVLOS [beyond visual line of sight] operations in the NAS [National Airspace System].” 

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