Detection of Conflicts Between ADS-B-Equipped Aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Systems

Principal Investigator: John Mott

Versatile unmanned aerial system (UAS) platforms have grown significantly in popularity by virtue of their low cost relative to manned aircraft, high performance, and operational simplicity. While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently regulates the operating altitudes, speeds, weights, pilot qualifications, and locations of drones, a lack of capacity and technology prohibits sufficient enforcement of these restrictions. To assess the frequency and severity of manned and unmanned aircraft separation incidents, and to examine the emerging sensor technology available to facilitate such assessment, flight operations in controlled airspace around Orlando Melbourne International Airport (KMLB) were monitored. One sensor system deployed at KMLB reported UAS locations, altitudes, and flight durations, while a second system reported manned aircraft positions, altitudes, and timestamps using ADS-B signals. Evaluation of flight operations data in the vicinity of KMLB revealed eight potential drone incursions over a 2-week period. Aircraft flight paths were retroactively tracked to map these unmanned and manned aerial conflicts; aircraft identification information was also researched to contextualize the incidents. The frequency and magnitude of identified events suggest the need for additional research to further explore the problem scope and potential solutions.


Other Faculty: Darcy M. Bullock

Students: Zachary A. Marshall

Representative Publications

  • Mott, J. H., Marshall, Z. A., Vandehey, M. A., May, M., & Bullock, D. M. (2020). Detection of Conflicts Between ADS-B-Equipped Aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Systems. Transportation Research Record, 2674(1), 197–204.