RelmaTech and V-TOL claim world’s first commercial RPAS/UTM flights

Secure airspace management for small drone operations is here

RelmaTech’s SIAM system – the leader in making small drone operations safe

BRISBANE, 22 August, 2016

Australia’s V-TOL Aerospace has partnered with UK-based RelmaTech to conduct what they claim is the world’s first commercial flight operations of a remotely piloted airborne system (RPAS) supported by an Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) system.

On Thursday 18th August, V-TOL used one of its GosHawk variant RPAS to conduct routine volumetrics survey operations for its customer, New Hope Mining Group (NHG), at NHG’s Jeebropilly Mine site located 1.5 nautical miles from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley, west of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. The GosHawk II Surveyor – an electric fixed wing aircraft weighing less than 7 kilograms – was fitted with RelmaTech’s SIAM (Secure Integrated Airspace Management) technology.

A V-TOL GosHawk II Surveyor RPAS fitted with SIAM

A V-TOL GosHawk II Surveyor RPAS fitted with SIAM (Photo courtesy of V-TOL Aerospace)

“As part of our technology development for minimising risk to third party airspace users, we are now fitting SIAM to all our aircraft, including aircraft we build for our customers,” said Mark Xavier, Director and Chief RPAS Pilot at V-TOL. “As the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of the aircraft flying within RAAF controlled airspace (CTR), we are permitted to fit such technologies to our aircraft.”

“Thursday’s RPAS operations, consisting of two flights of 2 hours and 1.5 hours duration, were carried out under V-TOL’s current Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and RAAF permissions,” Xavier added. “It was our first commercial operations using SIAM under standard operating conditions – an event we and RelmaTech believe to be a world first. That these operations took place 1.5 nautical miles from the main runway of Australia’s largest active RAAF base during normal F-18 and C-17 operations is also of significant importance.”

RelmaTech provided RAAF Amberley Air Traffic Control with a login to the SIAM portal so they could observe V-TOL’s RPAS operations in real time. Login accounts were also provided to ATC sections at RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Newcastle in New South Wales, and Oakey Army Aviation Centre, west of Toowoomba in Queensland, as V-TOL conducts RPAS operations within the Oakey CTR on a regular basis and will soon commence similar operations within the Williamtown CTR.

“Because the SIAM feed from an operating RPAS can be viewed in real-time over the web, SIAM enabled Amberley ATC to have greater situational awareness of V-TOL’s RPAS operating within their active CTR,” said Philip Hall, Founding Director and CEO of RelmaTech. “Mark, as Chief Pilot of V-TOL, was also able to monitor the flights between meetings in the Brisbane CBD, and I watched the live feed from my home office in the United States. The NHG Operations Manager for the Jeebropilly site could also observe the operations on his iPad.”

Last Thursday’s landmark flights come just a week after V-TOL demonstrated SIAM to representatives of Defence Industries and the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland. In that demonstration, V-TOL had two RPAS flying at the same time in their training area; a V-TOL Hornet multi-rotor on a general flight test, and a V-TOL GosHawk fixed wing conducting a survey training mission. Each aircraft weigh less than 7 kilogram. The demonstration included a detailed briefing and viewing of SIAM’s composite live feed of the aircraft flying.

John Thynne, former Manager Safety Systems Office at CASA and now Manager Aviation Solutions at RelmaTech, says “SIAM offers an operative digital substitute for ADS-B and secondary radar, thus providing an effective alternate means of situational awareness in the aviation sphere. This technology will assist in allowing the aviation industry greater scope of operations into the future.”

With SIAM technology, Xavier can now monitor his company RPAS operations anywhere in the world from the Operations Room at V-TOL’s Head Office in Rocklea, Queensland – or wherever he is. "SIAM will enable safer and more advanced operations in the National Airspace, and we are excited to be able to make this capability available to our customers", Xavier says. “As an OEM manufacturer and operator of unmanned aircraft, we believe it should be a requirement to fit all unmanned aircraft with SIAM technology.”

About SIAM

“SIAM offers a viable and robust solution to the critical issues confronting regulators and manufacturers responsible for ensuring the safety of low-flying RPAS,” Hall says. “SIAM represents an innovative integration of proven technologies and concepts used in civil aviation, online and mobile communications and information management, working in concert with existing transportation systems to ensure that small RPAS operations are safe for the full range of potential users.”

“With SIAM, RPAS and their operators can be identified and their permissions verified – and, where necessary, restricted,” Hall adds. “SIAM can determine whether the flight to be undertaken is restricted to Line of Sight or permitted for Beyond Line of Sight, and then oversee the flight accordingly. These and other capabilities, including separation assurance and collision warning, ensure that RPAS can be safely operated within an integrated managed airspace.”

About RelmaTech

RelmaTech is a UK-based company specialising in the development and operation of integrated technology-based solutions that provide for the safe and secure management of autonomous and semi-autonomous land, marine and air vehicle operations. RelmaTech also has representation in the United States and Australia. RelmaTech has lodged a world-wide patent application for SIAM.

About V-TOL Aerospace

Incorporated in 2004, V-TOL Aerospace is a Queensland-based 100% Australian owned SME and holder of CASA ARN: 750 709 and Unmanned Operator Certificate (UOC) 0074. V-TOL designs, manufactures, supplies, operates and supports fixed wing and multi-rotor RPAS for organisations and professionals from initial concept to sustainable commercial operations.