European MidCAS Study Integrates UAVs to Crowded Airspace


A new consortium seeking to establish technological solutions for integration of unmanned aerial systems in controlled airspace, by utilizing ‘Mid Air Collision Avoidance System’ (MidCAS) will assess and develop ‘sense and avoid’ technologies for future unmanned aerial systems, under the mandate of the European Defense Agency. MidCAS, in cooperation with European aviation organizations, will study the requirements and establish a standard for “sense and avoid” technology. This baseline will lead to the project’s main objective – to develop and demonstrate a sense & avoid systems that meet the requirements set for flights in civil airspace.

Today, UAVs cannot operate outside restricted and provisional areas, which limit their use for military, civil and security applications. The MidCAS programme aims at demonstrating that UAVs can fly safely in an undivided airspace thanks to technological solutions like the “sense and avoid” system. This system enables to avoid potential collisions and respond with appropriate manoeuvres. It is the automated transposition of the “see and avoid” procedure used by pilots to UAVs.

“The project includes the main businesses in our industry. With this contract from the EDA we can now combine our strengths and unite various initiatives. Together, we will find the best way forward to resolve the “sense and avoid” problem for unmanned aircraft,” says Lennart Sindahl, Saab Executive Vice President. The consortium will also include Diehl BGT Defence, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., EADS Deutschland and ESG from Germany, Alenia, Galileo Avionica, CIRA, Selex Communications and Selex Sistemi from Italy, Sagem Défense Sécurité, Thales Systèmes Aéroportés from France and Indra Sistemas from Spain.

The consortium consists of 13 European aviation industries from five countries including, Sweden, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Saab of Sweden has been appointed as the program’s coordinator for the entire project.  MidCAS program will span over four years at an estimated cost of about € 50 million.

Thales and Sagem are responsible for the “sense” function in the MidCAS program. Sagem will coordinate the work concerning non-cooperative sensors (infrared imagers and video, radar), as well as the processing and fusion of data from these sensors while Thales will work on the cooperative sensors such as radar, transponders, TCAS/traffic-alert and collision avoidance system, Thales will also provide the fusion of data from all sensors. Flight tests will be carried out at the CEV flight testing centre in Istres, France to validate the performance of the entire anti-collision function.
MidCAS will be developed in close collaboration with the relevant European bodies, that is the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (EuroControl), the European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment (EuroCAE) and the European Agency for Air Safety (EASA). It will also be coordinated with the US , with organizations such as the radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).