SES performed a successful demonstration, supporting a remotely operated aircraft through satellite communication links to establish reliable command and control of the aircraft.
The demonstration took place at the San Javier Air Base in Spain and was a part of a series of trials that had been underway since the end of April in the framework of the DeSIRE (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe ) project. This joined venture of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) aims at demonstrating the safe insertion of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in non-segregated airspace using satellites capabilities for RPAS command and control, ATC communications and mission data transfer to the ground, in order to satisfy the needs of potential user communities.
During the test flight, an Israeli Heron-1 drone was used and air traffic control and mission data were transferred through the company’s Ku-band capacity for maritime surveillance. SES is a world leading communication satellite operator currently managing a fleet of 52 geostationary satellites.
All the information collected in these tests will be analysed and compared with safety requirements outlined by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the operational requirements of EUROCONTROL.
The development of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems originated in a defence context. However, their utilisation for civil and security purposes has significant commercial potential. Possible uses include fire fighting; highway control; electricity line, critical infrastructures and border surveillance; environmental protection surveillance; management of emergencies and even goods transport.