SkyVision team to receive Air Traffic Controllers Association Outstanding Achievement Award

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – A team comprised of researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory, other federal, state, and local government agencies, industry, and academic partners is being honored by the Air Traffic Controllers Association (ATCA) for their work on a program called SkyVision, a ground-based detect and avoid technology they are operating at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

In an Aug. 21 letter, Peter Dumont, President and CEO of ATCA announced the team is being recognized with the association’s Annual Team Award for Outstanding Achievement, and will be honored at the ATCA awards luncheon scheduled for Oct. 22 during the 64th ATCA Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C.

The SkyVision technology allows for safe, accurate, and effective operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems by detecting and avoiding other aircraft while in flight using radar feeds from airports in Dayton and Columbus, and from the long-range radar at London, Ohio.

“Congratulations on your achievement and the great work you are doing to advance the science, safety, and efficiency of air traffic control,” Dumont wrote. “We look forward to recognizing your great achievement at ATCA Annual.”

“The award is in recognition of the outstanding work the SkyVision team did this year to overcome numerous technical challenges in establishing the Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site in Ohio,” said James K. Johnson of Raytheon’s Air Traffic Systems team, one of the key industry partners involved with the SkyVision program. The effort included proving the SkyVision capability safe to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which resulted in issuance of an unprecedented Certificate of Authorization (COA) to AFRL on April 3.

According to FAA rules, Unmanned Aircraft Systems may only fly within the uninterrupted line of sight of the person operating the UAS under most circumstances, but the newly issued COA allows AFRL and the Ohio Department of Transportation’s UAS Center in Clark County to use SkyVision to operate beyond the line of sight of the operator within a 200 square-mile area of unrestricted airspace near the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

“The availability of this technology makes this lab the only range in America that can test defense-related UAS technologies for any class of UAS beyond visual line of sight without chase planes or ground spotters. This new UAS test site will help modernize our national airspace system in ways that can support the safe integration of drones into everyday life,” said Johnson.

“I would like to echo ATCA’s CEO, Pete Dumont’s, congratulations on your achievement and the great work you are doing to advance the science, safety, and efficiency of air traffic control in our nation,” Johnson said. “This award truly demonstrates the close and collaborative working relationship between the Department of Defense, state/federal government, and industry partners over the years.”

“Much like the early days of manned flight, I think we are in a ‘golden age’ of rapid technological advancement which today supports amazing new capabilities for unmanned aerial systems,” said Art Huber, AFRL deputy director of operations. “In this vein we see the SkyVision system as a remarkable achievement on the road to full integration of remotely piloted aircraft in the National Airspace System.”