ATLAS Flight Test Centre has become a new member of the International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites (ICATS), which will add Spain to the list of countries involved in this partnership. The four executive countries of the consortium that include Canada, USA, UK and France, officially welcome to ATLAS at the Farnborough International Airshow.

“Joining ICATS will open possibilities of collaboration between ATLAS and the rest of members, such us R&D on experimental UAV projects in different countries,” said Silvia de los Santos, head of R&TD and Innovation Management Area of the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA-CATEC). “Technical and operational joint works are expected. Our membership will allow us to become part of the cutting edge in UAV research activities all over the world”.

In May of 2014, the representatives of the UAV test & service centre (CESA) (Bordeaux, France), the Oklahoma State University – University Multispectral Laboratories (Oklahoma, United States), the National Aeronautical Centre (Wales, United Kingdom) and the Unmanned Aerial Systems Centre of Excellence (Quebec, Canada) formally signed and celebrated an MOU. This agreement consolidates the various MOUs signed between the Centers in the past two (2) years.

“ICATS represents the first such collaboration between nations to share data on unmanned aerial systems,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Technology, Dr. Stephen McKeever. “We think this is a great step forward for the UAS community, and we hope it is a vehicle by which we will be able to unify regulations across international boundaries.”

The mission of the individual test sites is to develop international centres of expertise focused on the development, applications and operations of UAS/RPAS.  By joining forces the consortium test centres aim at supporting and guiding the industry in the development, operations and certification of UAS/RPAS as established by their respective regulating bodies. ICATS will also focus on cross-borders normalisation of training and licensing, as well as airspace management and regulations.

The test sites aim to engage with private, academic and public sector partners, as well as experts from around the world, to develop new business opportunities in the field of UAS/RPAS operations.  In addition, they will support research and development activities; create jobs; promote investment; develop and commercialize advanced technologies and expand existing services, both in their own countries and cross-borders

The consortium will support the industry by enabling the development, testing and ultimate certification of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)/Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) to allow for their use in non-segregated airspace. This will be achieved by sharing of information on operational safety, flight regulations and, when allowed to do so, actual operational experiences. The test centres will help continue to bridge the gap between the establishment of regulations and actual operations.

Since the formal announcement, ICATS has received expressions of interest from several UAS/RPAS test sites in multiple countries. The consortium welcomes interest from all UAS test sites and encourages contact with the ICATS Director of International Relations, Dr. Stephen McKeever, Secretary of Science and Technology, State of Oklahoma.