Unmanned airspace access is a key topic to enable unmanned flights in the U.S. National Airspace System. Above the 400-foot AGL limit, unmanned operations need special care and systems to fly safely and reliably. For autonomous flights to be safe, regular parts of daily, economical operations, designs for both the greater airspace and specific avionics must be built on robust systems design principles. For unmanned systems with a predefined flight plan, it is possible to autonomously and safely fly above 400 feet AGL in manned airspace by interfacing with ADS-B out and under the control of a licensed pilot. Utah State University's AggieAir group has been flying autonomously in this manner for real remote sensing missions, and in this paper, design methodologies for aircraft/avionics systems, ground support equipment, as well as flight logistics and airspace data interfaces are described. Lastly, flight data under FAA Certificates of Authorization (COAs) above 400 feet AGL demonstrate AggieAir's safe operations in manned airspace.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/austin-jensen/14/