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  • Writer's pictureSimon Golstein

High Lander and ATI execute landmark air taxi test

High Lander was proud to participate in a successful proof-of-concept demonstration of a major air taxi route in central Israel.

Specifically, we used a helicopter flown by ATI to test vital components of the infrastructure that will enable widespread air taxis operations.

There were three facets of this test:

1) Inter-city routes

The flight began in Herzliya and ended in Jerusalem, a trip of more than 75 kilometers, and the helicopter was tracked by our UTM the entire time.

This was a landmark achievement.

For crewed aircraft there are uncontrolled airspaces where they can use visual flight rules (VFR) and self-report to air traffic control, but not so for eVTOLs. These will need to maintain constant communication with flight management services from the beginning to the end of their flight time - so this 75 kilometers of constant supervision was an important demonstration.

The flight also passed through different types of airspace. It used the usual civil air routes between the two cities, but remained at an altitude considerably lower than that of traditional aircraft. As a result, the helicopter flew in the Herzliya U-space, the Tel Aviv U-space, the Jerusalem U-space, and the area between at an altitude not usually monitored by the relevant ground control station.

What is needed is a new system that will cover all of these airspaces, and that is exactly what we successfully demonstrated - a concept called CORUS (Concept of Operations for EuRopean UTM Systems).

2) ADS-B

ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance broadcast) is a technology that’s been used in traditional aviation since the early 2000s. It reverses the concept of radar by enabling aircraft to broadcast their identities and locations, rather than being passively discovered by radar pings.

Carrying an ADS-B transmitter or transponder is already mandatory for aircraft in Australia, the US, Canada and Europe - in fact it’s a central facet of SESAR’s strategy for a single European sky.

It is expected that eVTOLs will have ADS-B capabilities too, and this ATI helicopter flight was no exception - it was equipped with a SkyEcho ADS-B transponder. High Lander’s UTM system is ADS-B compatible, and detected the ADS-B signals for the duration of the flight via its integrated PingStation 3.

3) Remote ID

As we covered in this blog, any uncrewed aerial vehicle above 250 grams in weight will soon have to fly with remote-ID technology in the US and Europe.

Remote-ID is a concept similar to ADS-B, in which dedicated transponders broadcast the identity and location of a UAV to ground stations and/or cellular towers.

The ATI helicopter was fitted with Dronetag’s Dronetag Mini, a 32-gram transmitter that transmits via LTE, WiFi and BLE (BT). It covers all bases and conforms to PSU (Provider of Services for UAM), a central facet of the proposed urban air mobility ecosystem.

The future is now

We’re proud to report that the test flight was a success in every respect. ATI reported the flight plan to our UTM system, which checked it against other air traffic and approved. During the flight, the system continuously monitored the helicopter via the aircraft’s ADS-B and Remote-ID transponders while keeping constant watch for possible conflicts. All of this information was displayed in real time on the application for the pilot to view.

The idea of taking an air taxi to work was once a dream confined to sci-fi stories, but no longer. We’re getting so close to making it reality… the machines are ready, and only last month EASA published proposed changes to aviation legislation to include air taxis in law. But before air taxis can really take off, they need the safety infrastructure provided by a robust, scalable UTM system. That’s where ATI comes in – it provides planning services and technical support to parties involved in building the burgeoning urban air mobility ecosystem.

We were proud to work with ATI in the execution of this successful proof of concept, which provided another demonstration that our UTM is up to the task of supporting an active UAM ecosystem.

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