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FLOR will redefine the paradigms under which remote pilots and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems have been designed and operated during the last decades; i.e. a dedicated crew manages a single aircraft, indistinctive from being the latter manned or unmanned. Most of the existing and ongoing investigations related to the insertion of RPAS into air traffic have addressed the impact of operating a single aircraft. However, it has never been considered the advantatges of operating of a fleet of RPAS managed within a dedicated ground facility involving a specialised team of remote pilots. Currently, only the military applies RPAS in a large scale, and although in that specific environment the pressure to reduce operational costs is increasingly high, nevertheless the armed services do not have to face the pressure of an open market. FLOR intends to investigate the requirements for a new generation of RPAS systems that support a revolutionary operational paradigm: each pilot operates multiple RPAS in a certain phase of flight; pilots transfer the flight responsavility as the RPAS operation progresses. FLOR improves the way in which RPAS operators employ both aircraft and remote pilots, especially in terms of economic efficiency and safety. The improvements will come from multiple sources, such as a better exploitation of the vehicle availability as it will not be limited to the capabilities or duty time of a single crew. Further improvements are a more advantageous use of personnel resources. Each individual can be allocated to a certain tasks that better fit his competences and capabilities and those tasks may be adjusted dynamically over time. Pilots may supervise multiple RPAs during the extensive and uneventful cruise portions of flights, while may focus on individual vehicles to manage the critical parts of the flight, or to respond to emergency/abnormal situations. The ground based flight control of the aircraft fleet is improved by centralizing the RPAS piloting in a small network of highly capable infrastructures which will guarantee the desired levels of certification, fault-tolerance, and service continuity. Finally, from a safety perspective, the possibility of transferring the control of the RPAS for a change of pilot or to another piloting centre in case of need, will allow an unprecedented extra safety measure. The FLOR concept will prove effective for extensive commercial point-to-point cargo operations, but also when conducting surveillance operations, e.g. disaster monitoring with a fleet of MALE/HALE RPAS or operating a fleet of solar powered RPAS slowly loitering at extremely high altitude. This issue is often addressed as some of the most feasible deployment of RPAS, as those operations might be dangerous or exhausting for pilots in manned aircraft. Within the most recent European Commissions update of the Aviation Strategy for Europe the huge potential of drones in the sense of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is highlighted. EC is asking for R&D in reducing risks associated to UAS. In addition EC sees the need for improving related technologies and operations to unleash their full market potential. FLOR paves the way for the efficient application of UAS operated as RPAS with respect to their fleet management and control.

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Published on 01/01/2019

Volume 2019, 2019
DOI: 10.1109/tla.2019.8863312
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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