Ground Control Station Developed to Train Remote Drone Pilots

The Natilus Pilot Operations Desk (POD) is designed to train remote pilots of drones and is expected to reduce operational costs for Natilus autonomous aircraft customers By Joe Macey / 15 Dec 2023
Ground Control Station Developed for Training Remote Drone Pilots
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Natilus and Ameriflight have developed a ground control station called the Natilus Pilot Operations Desk (POD), designed to seamlessly integrate with the Natilus family of next-generation cargo aircraft.

According to Natilus, its partnership with Ameriflight ensures the company is directly addressing major challenges the cargo industry is currently facing while building a roadmap for the evolution of the product. 

The Natilus POD is expected to to push the boundaries of how cargo operators aviate, navigate, and communicate, while providing functional benefits that were previously unattainable.

The POD serves as a conduit that enables remote pilots to interface with the skies as seamlessly as if they were in the cockpit. This ease of operation will translate into improved training and reduced operational costs for customers. It also means happier and healthier pilots that can work from the comfort of an operations center near their homes. Eventually, one operator will be able to monitor up to three Natilus aircraft from the POD, enabling global reach with local control, all built to safety measures high above today’s standards. This provides the added benefit of more easily scaling business operations to meet growing scheduled and on-demand needs.

The POD is said to be a major milestone on Natilus’ path towards integrating the Natilus fleet into its customers’ existing operations. 

“Ameriflight is proud to partner with Natilus on this state-of-the-art aircraft and the technology that’s being created alongside it. We’re impressed with Natilus’ continued commitment and recognition of the air cargo industry need, directly demonstrated by their hands-on and collaborative approach to receiving feedback on needed capabilities,” said Ameriflight CEO Alan Rusinowitz. “We look forward to our continued partnership and ultimately to implementing the Natilus aircraft into our operation to ensure the success of additional business growth opportunities on our horizon.”

Natilus is leveraging satellite and airborne networks aided with cloud infrastructure to ensure communications that are robust, redundant, timely, and compliant. Alongside network partners, Natilus is demonstrating seamless ATC communications and C2 links for all phases of flight. In a sophisticated airspace and with near-airport infrastructure, aircraft operators can interface with ATC through traditional voice comms or data comms in lock step with the FAA’s broader NextGen initiative. This includes integration with existing technologies like Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC), development of ground-to-ground digital voice solutions, and more. In a remote environment, the vehicle is an airborne relay via a Satcom network to enable safe, cooperative communications and vehicle deconfliction if required.

The POD connects securely to a sophisticated cloud network that manages the real-time data filtering and layering for the pilot. The cloud manages the different data streams including redundant C2 links, redundant ATC comms, 4D air traffic situational awareness, meteorological data, relevant airspace advisories, and more to facilitate continuous, real-time operational decision.

According to Natilus, the company’s partnership with Ameriflight closes the loop with its customers, bringing operational requirements into the fold early in the POD development. Natilus POD is said to be another step towards a more efficient, safe, and connected future for the air cargo industry.

Posted by Joe Macey Connect & Contact
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