Hidden Level, Saab Continue Work On FAA Drone-Tracking Tests

Companies specializing in sensor and security technology provided systems aimed at the integration of uncrewed aircraft.

Hidden Level Deployed its Airspace Monitoring Service for an FAA testing program [Courtesy: Hidden Level]

Hidden Level Inc. and Saab Inc. said they are working with the FAA on long-term projects aimed at aiding the integration of uncrewed aircraft into the national airspace system.

The companies, based in Syracuse, New York, provide sensor and security technology and related systems and services in support of the agency’s Airport Unmanned Aircraft Systems Detection and Mitigation Research Program. The support effort began, the companies said, in the fall of 2018, when the FAA Reauthorization Act became law. The act was meant to continue the FAA’s funding through the end of the 2023 fiscal year.

In August 2020, the FAA announced it would test and evaluate systems that could detect uncrewed aircraft and mitigate the potential risks they might pose when operating near airports. The FAA chose five airports to take part in the tests, including Syracuse Hancock International Airport (KSYR); Atlantic City International Airport (KACY), Atlantic City, New Jersey; Rickenbacker International Airport (KLCK), Columbus, Ohio; Huntsville International Airport (KHSV), Huntsville, Alabama; and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (KSEA), Seattle, Washington.

At the time the FAA said the research “will lead to the implementation of new technologies that will make airports safer for passengers and traditional, crewed aircraft.” Testing began in February 2022 and will continue through September 30, 2023. The results from this testing and evaluation effort will aid in the development of a plan for certifying, permitting, and authorizing UAS detection and mitigation technology at airports, the agency said.

For the current program, Hidden Level said it deployed its Airspace Monitoring Service, essentially a drone-tracking system, last spring for FAA evaluation as a standalone system. The company also said its solution is also being evaluated as a complementary technology to Saab's SAFE Airport Event Management system.

"We are honored to participate in this crucial research program to provide additional tools to keep the National Airspace System safe," says Jeff Cole, Hidden Level CEO. "Airspace Monitoring Service is a scalable solution for major airports considering drone security."

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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