Why the name NextGen? 

We get asked this, typically after people say they like the company name. The reasons for the name are both personal and professional. 

First, I had a tough experience which, thankfully, lead to this venture. My work environment began to lack adaptation and did not maintain the breadth of opportunity I created. I got to thinking there is a better way. Moving forward, I personally commit to a better management ethic for the next generation of professionals that follow. 

Later, during my UAV pilot training, I learned a major global technological change was quietly simmering in the aviation community. The United States Federal Aviation Administration is presently rolling-out the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGEN); a suite of major enhancements to aid global aircraft navigation. From a UAV perspective, the exciting part is the planned requirement for aircraft to broadcast a GPS position, which enables them to be tracked anywhere on Earth. The “Automatic Dependence Surveillance – Broadcast”, or ADS-B, for short, enables aircraft (including UAV’s) to host a situational awareness, and potentially a sense and avoid capability. ADS-B is planned as a requirement for most aircraft over US airspace by 2020. ADS-B also operates now in a limited capacity in Canada, Australia, and Europe.   If you are a commercial UAV pilot, you know what this potentially means. Beyond line of sight (BLOS) operations in the future will increase on orders of magnitude, regardless of the timeline or government regulation. The UAV proliferation we’ve observed thus far is just the baby steps. The meaningful service contribution of UAV’s has yet to begin! It will be fun to watch this all unfold, for sure.

A comment for our UAV regulators: Safety would be further improved, while we wait for ADS-B to become commonplace in the air, if each control station operated by a UAV pilot in Canada could broadcast ADS-B from the ground during missions.

Dr. Paul Cooley