The Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA) is a non-profit organisation that takes care of the management and development of CATEC research centre (Centre for Advanced Aerospace Technologies). The main goal of CATEC is the research and development in aerospace related technologies supporting industries in coordination with universities and other research centres. CATEC has currently 45 researchers and engineers and has been awarded with a 21 million euros grant for laboratories and equipment.
CATEC develops technology for the aerospace sector in its three main research areas: Avionics and Systems, Robotics and Automation, and Materials and Processes. CATEC is the main Spanish research center for civil RPAS/UAS with more than 20 researchers working on aerial systems technology and it has a large experience in developing technological solutions and applications with UAS and aerial robotics. Also, it is important to highlight that CATEC has a wide experience participating in European projects; having participated in 8 FP7 projects (coordinating 3 of them) in the last 7 years and already participating in 4 H2020 projects.
On the other hand, CATEC has a strong activity related to the future certification of RPAS and has actively participated in the working groups that helped in the definition of the current Spanish RPAS regulation with AESA (Spanish NAA) and is member of AESA’s RPAS Advisory Committee. Moreover, CATEC is a limited member of EUROCAE (European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment) and participates in the recently created WG-105 working Group (Unmanned Aircraft Systems). CATEC is also a member of the WG for UAS in AENOR which the Spanish representative for ISO committees. Furthermore, it is important to mention that CATEC is involved in a certification project for a civil 150Kg UAV helicopter with INAER (part of Babcock International Group) under the Civil UAVs Initiative promoted by the regional government of Galicia.
On the other hand, CATEC has a relevant experience integrating and demonstrating advanced technologies for UAS/RPAS. In fact, CATEC counts with its own autopilot and GCS technology with a development environment that allows to easily integrating functionalities and algorithms developed by third partners. This integration framework for UAS has been validated in many European projects like EC-SAFEMOBIL, PLANET, ARCAS, FieldCopter, etc. In fact, we have already developed and demonstrated, in a laboratory environment, detect & avoid technologies for both static and dynamic threads.
Through its participation in all these different projects, CATEC has an important experience in the development and integration of a wide range of systems in RPAS like transponders, data loggers, embedded payload processing units, datalinks, etc. Also, CATEC counts with a considerable unmanned aerial vehicles fleet, light and tactical fixed- and rotary-wing RPAS, having also complete ground equipment (control station and vehicle with trailer) used for flight tests and validation proposes. During the last 8 years, CATEC has accumulated a large amount of experience in the operation of RPAS with specialized personnel (including 3 RPAS homologated pilots) and obtaining permit to flights for numerous R&D flying campaigns.
Finally, it is important to mention that CATEC manages ATLAS which is a test flight center located in Villacarrillo, Jaen, Spain. It is specially designed for light and small UAS/RPAS operations. It counts with 1000 Km2 of segregated airspace until 5000 ft. available jointly with a main runaway of 600 m and auxiliary one of 400 m. Telemetry and primary surveillance radar facilities are available. Along with a suited orography and climatology enabling more than 300 day a year for operations. On the other hand, offices, meeting rooms, hangars, workshops are ready for customers, including full support to operations: management of flight permits for the coordination of flight operations, and interactions with Civil Aviation Authorities in Spain. Then, this is an ideal location for technology validation and it is planned to be used in this project.