The International Society for Atmospheric Research using Remotely-piloted Aircraft (ISARRA) held its fourth conference from 23 to 25 May 2016, at the International Conference Centre at Météo-France, in Toulouse, France. The conference served to unite the atmospheric science community, industry representatives and government officials to promote the exchange of ideas, emerging technologies, sampling strategies, and experiences related to the deployment of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the field. The conference comprised of two components: four days of UAV flight activities preceding the conference, and the exchange of knowledge through oral and poster presentations during the plenary sessions. The programmatic themes for the meeting focused on aircraft and control systems, instrumentation and payload integration, science applications and regulatory issues.
The conference provided a unique opportunity for EUFAR to explore potential links between UAS and manned aircraft and present EUFAR to the UAS community. EUFAR project coordinator – Elisabeth Gérard (Météo-France) and the Future of the Fleet Activity Leader – Francesco Cairo (CNR-Italy) participated in the conference. Francesco Cairo gave an oral presentation entitled “EUFAR: a portal for airborne research in Europe”, introducing EUFAR and highlighting areas for collaboration with the UAS community, especially given the limitations of both aircraft and UAS in carrying out environmental observations.
For instance, the legal framework for UAS is still under development, and UAS have a restricted payload in terms of weight and power, limiting the type of measurements that can be undertaken and the area of coverage. Research aircraft, on the other hand, are more expensive and less adapted particularly for small-scale analyses and Lagrangian experiments, slower and more difficult to deploy, less target-orientated, and unable to reach certain areas. These limitations and comparative advantages on both sides present an argument for complementary cooperation between research aircraft and UAS.
In recognition of these issues, through EUFAR’s expert working group dedicated to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (led by Joachim Reuder, Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Norway), EUFAR hopes to develop collaboration with the UAS community and a dedicated workshop is envisaged in 2017.
Photos from the ISARRA 2016 Conference, photo credit - Christophe Ciais, Météo-France