Inmarsat, Altitude Angel Develop ‘Pop Up’ Drone Traffic System

Credit: Altitude Angel

Satellite communications provider Inmarsat and Altitude Angel announced a partnership to develop a “pop-up” traffic management system for small drones.

The companies will build on Altitude Angel’s unmanned aircraft systems traffic management (UTM) operating system, named Guardian UTM, to provide a deployable platform using Inmarsat’s global satellite network for connectivity.

The satellite-based UTM platform will support tracking and management of drones without the need for a ground-based communications infrastructure. It will initially be developed for use by “blue light” emergency services, with a product focused on the commercial industry to follow, the companies said June 15.

“The ability to almost instantly ‘pop-up’ safe, secure and fully operational UTM platforms in any environment, at any time, will give first responders, blue light services and aid organizations a valuable new tool that could save countless lives,” said Phil Binks, Altitude Angel head of air traffic management. 

“Altitude Angel and Inmarsat will be able to bring connectivity, clarity and automated air traffic control services for UAVs in even the most challenging of circumstances,” Binks said.

Altitude Angel, based in Reading, UK, entered into a long-term agreement with air navigation service provider UK NATS in March 2018 to integrate UTM and conventional air traffic control services. 

In November that year, they demonstrated the use of an integrated system in controlled airspace at Manchester Airport during Operation Zenith, which also involved air traffic management technology provider Frequentis and other companies.

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, DC, Bill covers avionics, air traffic management and aviation safety for Aviation Week. A former daily newspaper reporter, he has covered the commercial, business and military aviation segments as well as unmanned aircraft systems. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2017, he worked for Aviation International News and Avionics and Rotor & Wing magazines.