While UAVs such as the Global Hawk are perfectly capable of taking off, flying the route, and landing totally without human intervention, "see and avoid" still applies, which is why they're not allowed to fly in the national aerospace system, except under certain conditions. Even so, the Global Hawk has an operator connected to it via satlink and monitoring it at all times. The radios aboard the drone allow the operator to talk to ATC the same as any piloted aircraft, and the operator is required to be a certified IFR pilot.I have to agree that so far as take off, fly the route, land goes it is certainly capable with current technology. It is the additional factors as andre has pointed out that make a human pilot 'better' than current computer systems. Does anyone know if they've conducted tests of pilotless drones in crowded sky conditions such as those found around a major airport? (Pilotless as in flying under its own control, not like the predator drones)
Should the satlink ever fail, the Global Hawk is programmed to squawk 7600 or 7700, depending on the situation, broadcast its intentions to ATC, fly to the nearest suitable military airfield, land, stop, and wait for a tow.
I agree.I think the human factor is more important when it comes to military operations as opposed to civilian, but none-the-less required.