Prospective Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations in the Future National Airspace System

September 2004
Matthew T. DeGarmo, The MITRE Corporation
Gregory M. Nelson, The MITRE Corporation
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The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market is expected to grow dramatically by 2020, as military, civil and commercial applications continue to develop. The National Airspace System (NAS) is also expected to change significantly over the next 16 years, with the introduction of new technologies and procedures. Potential changes include the creation of an information management system to exchange information among Air Traffic Management users and providers, the introduction of 4-D navigation, and the development of alternative separation procedures. This paper compares prospective UAV applications against underlying assumptions of the future NAS. Seven UAV operational scenarios that describe how UAVs may operate in the future NAS are presented. The impact of each scenario on the future NAS is summarized, and associated issues identified. The paper concludes by describing the need for a UAV roadmap to the future, which would identify the critical steps required to ensure UAVs are fully integrated into the future NAS.

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