The first flight demonstrating how an unmanned aircraft can operate in all UK airspace took place in April 2013.
The Jetstream successfully completed a 500 mile trip from Warton, Lancashire to Inverness, Scotland under the command of a ground based pilot and control of NATS (National Air Traffic Control Services) air traffic controllers.The trial flights incorporated a number of firsts including:
- believed to be the world’s first use of autonomous, vision-based weather-avoidance routing
- the first UK Surrogate flight of a fully functional visual sense-and-avoid system
- the first flight of an aircraft configured as a UAV, flying under Instrument Flight Rules under air traffic control in shared UK airspace.
While only one or two of the technologies were world firsts, many were UK firsts – and it was the first time these technologies have been brought together. The flight was part of a series of flight trials designed to prove the technology needed to allow the safe and routine flying of unmanned aircraft in UK airspace.