A Transport Canada approved detect and avoid (DAA) solution for BVLOS RPAS Operations.
Sparrowhawk is a ground-based radar complimented with ADS-B that enables effective small aircraft detection. It provides an integrated airspace picture allowing RPAS Operators to safely fulfill their operations.
The key to extracting the true capability of unmanned systems is through extended range. Sparrowhawk provides the situational awareness to open up an exponential increase in area coverage from visual line of sight operations. A single radar enables 450 km2 for operations.
Sparrowhawk paved the way for Canadian UAVs to obtain Special Flight Operations Certificates (SFOCs) from Transport Canada for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) RPAS Operations anywhere in Canadian Class G airspace up to 800 feet above ground level.
Sparrowhawk is commercially available NOW and can be purchased by using the Contact Us form and selecting Sparrowhawk.Contact Us
Sparrowhawk starts at $135,000 USD. A complete system comes with radar hardware, a Software-Defined Radio (SDR) dongle and ADS-B antenna to process ADS-B (1090 MHz) data, airspace management software to process and visualize the airspace of interest, and API for RPAS system integration into the airspace picture. Training, installation support, and 1 year of customer support is also included. Contact us for specific configuration pricing for your application.
Sales commence with a 25% deposit with the remainder amount due 30 days after system delivery.
ADS-B is not mandated world-wide. Further, it is not always reliable and can even be switched off. In our testing, almost half of “industrial and private” air traffic does not use ADS-B (in Canada). This creates a massive safety hole. Sparrowhawk does use ADS-B, but does not solely depend on it. It is used to assess radar performance over time.
Sparrowhawk has a beam height which tracks aircraft up to an altitude of 6000 ft AGL and up to a range of 8 NM. Air traffic flying beyond that altitude typically have ADS-B, and that is reported through Sparrowhawk. The remaining tracks are typically lower flyers and necessitate some form of consideration and possible remedial action on the part of the operator. Processes and procedures by the pilot can take action with flyers that encroach your airspace (i.e. contact on radio or descend temporarily)
Sparrowhawk is configured to receive your RPAS information and present it on the VCSi Airspace user interface. You can develop interfaces to your own GCS to publish Sparrowhawk airspace detections there.
No. Sparrowhawk is commercially available and not subject to ITAR or Canadian Controlled Goods.
Yes. Sparrowhawk architecture allows for its data to be forwarded to other software solutions. The major advantage of Sparrowhawk is that it works in varied environmental conditions (cloudy, light rain, at night). It provides 360 degree coverage and does not require aircraft hardware modification.
Safety compliance in your jurisdiction will dictate the level of confidence needed for your application. The size of aircraft, type of aircraft, on-board recovery systems, jurisdiction of operation, population density, airspace complexity and other factors will determine your solution. Sparrowhawk can be a key piece of the puzzle.
Sparrowhawk analyses every raw radar reflection generated within its range and the resulting picture provides an assortment of detections: moving vehicles, birds, drones, aircraft, weather (snow, rain, fog, smoke) and ground clutter.
Sparrowhawk is tuned to optimally extract what it believes to be air traffic.
Approval to fly BVLOS, is only about half based on your DAA solution. The rest is based on the aviation processes of your company, the aircraft you fly, and where you want to fly it. Sparrowhawk can provide the data to your regulator to ensure you can check that box when properly integrated into your processes. We have a technical data supplement manual which we have used with BVLOS applications that is intended to assist with your application.
Proving your pedigree to the regulator is your responsibility, but we will assist in sharing the DAA component. Transport Canada has provided Canadian UAVs with a nation wide BVLOS Special Flight Operations Certificate which allows for flight in Canada.
Understanding SORA is a typical mechanism to prove your understanding of safety for your BVLOS flights. SORA introduces the term “Air Risk Class” (ARC) which classifies airspace and ground space based on the risks associated with flying there.
Sparrowhawk is a key piece of Canadian UAVs' solution in Canada where they received approval from Transport Canada to fly <25 kg RPAS in Canadian skies out to 8 NM from the radar for ARC-B and 6.5 NM in ARC-C. To date we have achieved a Specific Assurance and Integrity Level (SAIL) of 4 in our operations.
When in stock, delivery of a single Sparrowhawk is 4-6 weeks from receipt of deposit.Contact Us
Currently, Sparrowhawk is configured to a maximum range of 8 NM or 14.8 km. This range can be increased marginally depending on where the radar is positioned and the type of targets being tracked. Further, networking of multiple Sparrowhawks is a planned improvement. Contact us for more information. Note that ADS-B typically operate to ranges beyond 100 NM.
Deploying more than 1 radar to a region and positioning them in different locations is likely to increase detection of flyers in the region; however, Sparrowhawk currently does not include the capability of merging detection and interpretations from 2 or more radars into one view. Networked radar capability is planned for a future release of Sparrowhawk.
The primary limitation of any ground-based radar is placement of the equipment. Radar effectiveness depends on two things – line of sight to target, and prevailing ground clutter. Radar can only detect what it can directly observe from the radiating antenna, to the target. As such, the placement of the Sparrowhawk, on the ground, must be free from major blockages in the area of interest. Further, if you are in mountainous terrain, there will be blind spots in valleys and blockages from hills. Tools are provided with Sparrowhawk for you to pre-assess locations worldwide. This preview capability is roughly 80% accurate to reality.
Through extensive testing, we have found that ground-based radar works best when installed at the approximate height of the prevailing obstacles. For example it works best close to the ground in flat prairie, at tree height when in a forest, and at building height when in a dense city. When the radar is installed significantly higher than the surrounding landscape we see improved detections at max range, but more clutter at intermediate ranges.
Sparrowhawk works well when mounted to a van or trailer, however the vehicle must be stationary during operation and level. At time of setup, the user calibrates the radar position and heading, is able to setup that up within a few minutes. Positioning of Sparrowhawk remains a critical factor for performance, but the advantage of placing Sparrowhawk on a transportable platform is that several locations can be tried before a BVLOS flight is commenced.
Prior to turning on a Sparrowhawk, you require a spectrum permit from the relevant authority for using radar equipment due to the utilization of radio frequencies. This is a straight forward application as we use a commercially available marine radar, and radio permits typically have a marginal cost in most countries. Spectrum permits are usually location based, but transportable and mobile permits are possible.
To conduct BVLOS RPAS operations using Sparrowhawk, you will require an operational flight permit from your jurisdiction. In Canada this is referred to as a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). In the US this is referred to as a Part 107 Waiver. When purchasing a Sparrowhawk, we will supply all the technical data related to the Sparrowhawk “Detect and Avoid” system which will be needed for these applications. Sparrowhawk has previously been approved for BVLOS use in Canada, and approvals in the US are pending review.Contact Us
There is no pre-determined limit on the number of targets the system can concurrently track. The way Sparrowhawk processes data is not affected by the number of targets, however if targets become too congested Sparrowhawk loses the ability to differentiate between tracks in the same way a human operator can become overwhelmed. Sparrowhawk has a feature to track the “fingerprint” of an airspace over time. This means that if you deploy Sparrowhawk for several days or weeks it can create heat-map of where traffic is the most dense. This assists when conducting mission planning in congested airspace.
Sparrowhawk has a horizontal positioning root mean square error (RMSE) of 110 m out to 8 NM. This error is based upon the horizontal beamwidth of the radar itself. This beam width is 1-1.5 degrees. The further a target is away, the larger the error. Sparrowhawk can also track targets up to 6000 feet with a vertical beam height of 11 degrees from horizontal. Note that targets at extremely high altitudes can often be tracked at great distance through side-lobes, but they introduce positional geometric error when projected to the ground.
Sparrowhawk obviously offers the detect portion of a DAA. However, within the GUI presentation layer, there also exists the ability to upload the particular performance characteristics of your drone. From this data, the Sparrowhawk map display shows a keep out zone around all tracked targets. These keep out zones move with the target, and if there is a pending violation of your drone into any keep out zone, a warning and a count-down is triggered for pilot remediation. Sparrowhawk leaves a pilot with the ultimate authority for avoidance maneuvers, but Sparrowhawk will make violations extremely evident.
In the sample video below, a real manned aircraft is flying pre-determined maneuvers to test Sparrowhawk in real-time. A simulated drone is inserted into the mission, and this triggers warnings.
Note: this is very disturbing to pilots 😊
*This video is played at 3x normal time
Sparrowhawk weighs 50 - 80 lbs depending on the radiator length, and mounts through 4 stainless steel bolts to a surface. It needs to be mounted on a relatively flat surface, but it can be metal, wood, fiberglass or other wise. So long as the rotating antenna is free from obstructions, it is fine. Installation is more based on visibility than physical mounts. While possible to mount on a tower, it is more ideal to mount it lower to avoid wind load. Mounting higher is only needed to overcome nearby obstacles. The larger 8 ft Sparrowhawk also has a processing unit which should reside inside with the laptop.
Being a marine radar, Sparrowhawk is very robust and used to bad weather, g-forces, and extended operation. It is rated from -25°C to +55°C. Solid state variants of Sparrowhawk can run from 5-10 years without needing maintenance. General maintenance can include new rotating motors at a cost around $1000 or a new magnetron for under $2000 (5000 hour life). Our first ever Sparrowhawk has been running trouble free since 2016.
Yes, if the antenna is properly supported, it can remain in place when driving. We leave our radar installed on vans and trailers permanently, including driving across North America many times. We can show you how best to support your antenna radiator for a long life.
Currently, Sparrowhawk is not tuned to track drones. However, it is very likely it will track your drone periodically throughout its flight. To prevent the system from triggering warnings, you can publish the location of your drone such that Sparrowhawk does not alert you to its presence. In practice, we can routinely track our 4lb fixed wing drone, but the tracking is intermittent.
Each Sparrowhawk comes with a performance specification certificate which shows what it was tested to achieve. For example, 70% tracking of a small aircraft(Cessna-172 / RV-10) for a range of 1.5 NM to 7.5 NM and altitude of 100 ft to 6000 ft AGL. Sparrowhawk also processes ADS-B data to assess radar track accuracy and coverage.
Radar placement is key for a successful operational deployment. Like all radio waves, Radar depends on having line of sight to target so that the target may reflect a portion of energy back to achieve detection. If the target flies behind trees or other obstructions it may be lost, and that introduces some level of variability to tracking targets of interest.
Sparrowhawk come with software tools aid deployment of radar at locations of interest, and that is roughly 80% - 90% accurate to reality. The best fix for a bad site is moving the radar. It’s for this reason that we recommend mobile installations. There is almost no cure for a fixed radar installation that generates a substantial amount of ground clutter or line of sight issues. As such, our performance specifications are based on effective installation, which is part of our training program. So the effective answer for this question is “move the radar”.