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Drones in controlled airspace

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2021 3:40 pm
by pdebaty
I love pilotEdge! I only fly VFR and GA at the moment and I think it would be great to have a few drones in the pattern at controlled airports so that we can practice things like extending the downwind, looking for traffic, keeping a safe distance, waiting before taking off...
Sure we won't hear them talking to ATC so it would not be completely realistic but it would be better than always being the only one landing at a controlled airport. Even during focus fields events there is usually never enough real pilot in the system to have multiple planes in the pattern at the same time.
If there is a concern that it would add too much workload to the ATC controller, perhaps this could be constrained to less busy times, and/or only select airports?
I would love to hear thoughts from pilotEdge and other pilots on this suggestion.

Re: Drones in controlled airspace

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:55 pm
by Keith Smith
We have a policy of not having drones fly in airspace where communication would be required with ATC. The notion of ATC having to work traffic around a NORDO aircraft doing pattern work is not a path that I am comfortable with.

I would suggest organizing a pattern party at a non-towered airport. That will allow you to practice everything you're looking for. Also, check out the Fly with Me forum: viewforum.php?f=9, there are group flights organized by EV SimPilot every Saturday....I suspect that will be perfect for you.

Also consider that if 3-4 ppl are in the pattern at a towered airport, that controller is unlikely to be able to provide meaningful service at the other 44 airports that they're also watching, along with all of the approach positions, and the enroute positions.

Pattern work is a workload-intensive operation, requiring frequent radio calls and a close watch from ATC. It's not a good fit unless we get to a point where one controller is handling just one tower (like the real world).

I really think the non-towered group flights are your best bet, they should meet your needs.

Re: Drones in controlled airspace

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 12:03 pm
by pdebaty
Thanks for your response! I will check out those organized group flights options, I did not know about them and it sounds like fun!
I did not realize how much work it would be for a controller to arrange 3-4 ppl in the pattern. That makes sense and I understand why adding drones in the pattern would not a viable option at the moment.