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  • Writer's pictureSimon Golstein

Universal UTM tested by Ground Control Unit 506

High Lander is proud to announce that Universal UTM was successfully tested in its biggest role yet: watching the sky of the entire northern sector of Israel!

The challenge of Israeli airspace

Israeli airspace is amongst the most tightly-controlled in the world. It has to be.

Israel is a tiny country, roughly the size of New Jersey, and also one of the busiest. It attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every month, which means a lot of incoming and outgoing planes. At the same time, there’s a heavy military air presence, with planes and helicopters always on the move both in training and on active duty. And of course, there’s the ever-growing population of drones - military, commercial and recreational - filling the sky at lower altitudes.

How do they keep track of all this traffic?

Israel controls its air traffic in layers. The country is peppered with control tower regions (CTRs) with typical radii of 10 kilometers, or 5 nautical miles. In addition, civil air traffic control (such as that attached to Ben Gurion airport) watches flight paths stretching the length of the country and out into the Mediterranean Sea.

This doesn’t cover everything though. The remaining airspace is covered by two C2 bases - north and south command - which are responsible for tracking everything airborne and reporting the data to relevant local authorities.

The problem is that the population of unmanned aerial vehicles is growing, and fast. We saw this in practice during our recent visit to Ben Gurion, where a dedicated team watch for drone activity 24/7. It’s a challenge because it’s placing pressure on the legacy systems, which were not designed to track software-flown vehicles nor handle such large volumes of low-altitude air traffic. And with the volume growing almost every day, new technology is needed, and fast.

A new solution for a new era

That’s where High Lander came in. As part of the March 2023 Israel National Drone Initiative, we installed a Universal UTM monitor into the control center of Ground Control Unit 506, which is responsible for policing all air traffic in the north of Israel. For an entire week, base personnel took advantage of a system specifically designed to monitor and coordinate drone activity.

Due to the classified nature of their work, we can’t reveal too many details. But we can say that they were impressed. Very impressed. Stretching the capabilities of their air traffic management system was never going to be a long-term solution. They reported that Universal UTM made their work much more efficient, and much easier.

This is exactly the kind of role that we dreamed of when we built Universal UTM: working alongside ATM systems to create harmony between manned and unmanned aircraft on a national scale. It isn’t the first time we’ve tested the system on such a scale - we were recently selected as an official UTM provider for the national police - but seeing it operate alongside an ATM system in such an important role was hugely gratifying.

We’re proud to demonstrate that Universal UTM is fully ready for full integration alongside ATM systems, at any scale. We look forward to permanent implementations in the very near future.

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