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September 4, 2019

Wing Demonstrates Decentralized Drone Traffic Management as Part of FAA Pilot Program

  • , Policy
  • , United States
  • , UTM


In June, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) held a demonstration of its Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) pilot program. Wing participated in the demonstration alongside GE, ANRA Technologies, and AirMap at the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) test site at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Extending the progress made by NASA’s four-year Technical Capability Level (TCL) research program, the demonstration showed how a decentralized UTM system works, with air traffic management occurring within a standards-based, open-source ecosystem of interoperable platforms. This decentralized approach allows multiple companies to innovate on solutions to support a range of different types of drone flyers, while sharing critical safety information among all users.

As part of the demonstration, the FAA directed Wing and other participants to execute a series of exercises involving multiple aircraft in low-altitude airspace. The FAA evaluated participants’ ability to execute the deconfliction of flight paths, and the ability to receive notification of time-sensitive no-fly zones and adapt flight plans accordingly.

The demonstration scenarios included:

  • A helicopter conducting a low-altitude rescue mission, requiring multiple drone users to evaluate a ‘no fly zone’ notification and to change flight-paths if necessary;
  • A scenario in which users deconflicted flight-paths in the aftermath of a severe storm;
  • The reporting of non-compliant drone activity to the FAA, via a UTM platform.

Drones serve a diverse range of purposes, from transporting goods, to surveying farms, to assisting emergency service workers. Wing believes that a decentralized, interoperable approach to traffic management enables nations to effectively manage the diversity of drone operations safely, and at a low cost, and the UPP demonstration showed that multiple drone service providers have technical solutions available today that will facilitate this approach.