Avionics News July 2020 - 60

AVIONICS NEEDS FOR URBAN AIR MOBILITY
Continued from page 59

operations with high costs of traditional certifications - called
technical standard orders or supplemental type certificates in
the avionics world.
Drones carrying people for hire over urban environments is
pretty high risk - and even more so if there are people you care
about on board or below. There isn't any way around it: TSOs
or STCs are going to be required and will likely trend toward
higher levels of what is called design assurance levels - which
increases the cost (and presumably safety) accordingly.
A big problem faced by this industry is that TSOs are built
upon standards - usually industry or community-based - and
those standards don't exist today because the functions that the
avionics will need to perform weren't previously applicable.
These standards can take years to develop, but there are some
key standards in the works that will be applicable, including:
aircraft collision avoidance system for unmanned systems;
detect and avoid radar; command and non-payload control; and
multi-frequency/multi-constellation global navigation satellite
systems. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of ground to cover,
as even the work being done in many of these efforts is not
focused on the UAM/AAM use case.
In the meantime, uAvionix is helping its customers through
these challenges by developing technical certification data
packages consistent with the appropriate design assurance
levels for RTCA DO-254, RTCA DO-178C and DO-160G.
These TCDPs provide the OEMs with everything they need in
support of their type certification efforts for their aircraft.
Performance-based navigation
Autonomous eVTOL aircraft (and yes, we do expect that
there will be a phase where we go through piloted UAM using
eVTOL aircraft) will have an incredibly high bar to meet when
it comes to actually being where they intend to be. We tend
to generically think of this in terms of GPS accuracy, but the
problem extends beyond GPS because we simply cannot rely
on GPS alone. It is just too easy to spoof or jam the GPS signal.
Performance-based navigation is an aviation term that when
paraphrased means that the navigation system of the aircraft
must meet the needs of the mission. As mission needs require
more precision, the navigation component has to also become
more precise to meet those needs. That will be accomplished in
a number of ways. First, single constellation GPS (GPS is U.S.
owned) receivers will expand to become multi-constellation,
and multi-frequency GNSS receivers that can compute positions based on other constellations like Galileo, BeiDou and
GLONASS. Combining multiple constellations and frequencies
reduces the effects of atmospheric interference and susceptibility to jamming - but not completely.
Ground-based position, navigation and timing systems might
be needed. Currently, long-range navigation infrastructure is
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2020

making a new comeback as a 2.0 "enhanced" eLORAN. Because of the low frequency range, eLORAN is well-suited for
urban canyons and is much more impervious to jamming.
Finally, if all else fails, the aircraft is going to have to
navigate well-enough completely on its own to a safe landing
location. This will involve onboard inertial navigation system
gyros and external sensors such as cameras and/or radars to be
able to navigate by dead-reckoning and locate a suitable spot to
put down. When discussing UAM/AAM in a military context,
almost the first item discussed is "navigation in GPS-denied
environments." We can't design these aircraft or its avionics
systems for a best-case scenario.
Detect and avoid
DAA becomes a new type of avionics. In many ways,
the traffic collision avoidance systems of today fall into this
category, and we believe UAM/AAM will have such systems
as ACAS Xu, but also ADS-B In and one or more non-cooperative aircraft detection such as cameras, radar, or a myriad of
other tech types being trialed now.
What is yet to be seen is how UAM/AAM aircraft fall under
the right-of-way rules. Per current regulations, drones must
avoid all manned aircraft: Is it going to be the same when the
drone is carrying passengers? The FAA's UTM Concept of
Operations version 2.0 subtly hints that right-of-way rules may
change in the future. We'll see.
ATM/UTM integration
Finally, we'll wrap up with air traffic management and unmanned traffic management integration. In many ways, urban
air mobility will have to integrate with both sets of systems.
Flight planning and strategic deconfliction will likely look an
awful lot like the way UTM systems are being envisioned to
operate today. That might mean 5G connectivity and remote
identification. But relatively speaking, these aircraft will be
big when compared to drones - comparable in size to general
aviation aircraft or helicopters. They'll also be operating in
controlled airspace (as most urban environments live under this
airspace), and perhaps even to/from airports - albeit they may
not use existing airport landing locations. For these reasons, we
believe ATM will be involved, and the aircraft will need to be
equipped when it comes to communications and surveillance
equipment accordingly. So yes, we do believe these aircraft
will be carrying transponders and ADS-B Out, among other
technologies.
Well, that was fun. Drop us a line to let us know if you agree
or disagree with our assumptions at uam@uavionix.com. Also,
check out our UAM avionics website for a preview of some of
the projects we are working on at avionix.com/uam. q

Editor's Note: This article was first published May 7, 2020, on the
uAvionix website and is reprinted with permission.


http://uavionix.com/uam

Avionics News July 2020

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