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Sagetech Completes Successful Joint Manned, Unmanned Aircraft Flight 

By gguarino | November 7, 2012
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Sagetch demonstrated how an iPad electronic flight bag (EFB) app and Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS-B) technology allows joint flight operations between manned and unmanned aircraft.

The avionics manufacturer partnered with unmanned aircraft manufacturer Arcturus UAV to simultaneously fly a manned Cirrus SR-22 and an Arcturus T-20 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) over McMillan Airfield in CampRoberts, Calif.

Operators on the ground and the pilot in the Cirrus SR-22 used Sagetech XP transponders to broadcast ADS-B position messages via Wi-Fi to an iPad with the Hilton Software WingX EFB app.

"Even when I couldn't see the UAV visually from the cockpit, I could see it electronically on my iPad, including its heading," said Kelvin Scribner, the pilot of the Cirrus SR-22 and president of Sagetech. "And it was right there on the aviation charting app I already use in flight, Hilton Software’s WingX.”

FAA currently allows unmanned aircraft to fly in the U.S. within restricted airspace, but Sagetech believes their recent demonstration shows that unmanned and manned aircraft can share airspace by using UAS equipped with ADS-B transponders. Potential joint manned/unmanned operations include search-and-rescue operations and disaster relief surveillance.

"As an operator, this is exactly what I need. I could see deploying it next year,” said Brian Whiteside, president of VDOS, an Oregon company that provides data operations support for unmanned aircraft. Whiteside was present at the recent demonstration, and was able to track both aircraft on his smartphone. 

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