Ohio Firm Teams With State On Drone Traffic Management


Columbus, Ohio-based CAL Analytics has combined with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to initiate a low-altitude air traffic management system for drone operations. According to CAL Analytics, the system will provide digital tools to enable multiple UAS operators to share flight planning details, ultimately allowing safe “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS) drone flights.

CAL Analytics wrote: “While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides air traffic control for traditional aircraft flying in certain airspaces, low-altitude traffic management for drones is the responsibility of individual operators.” Without a robust traffic management system, BVLOS flight is not practical on a statewide scale.

Rich Fox, director of the Ohio UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) Center at ODOT, said, “The introduction of this vital capability continues Ohio’s tradition of innovation in the aviation community while prioritizing safety. As we collaborate with others at the newly opened National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence, we expect this to be the first of many industry-leading activities coming out of that state-of-the-art facility.” 

Dr. Sean Calhoun, managing director of CAL Analytics, said, “This realization is the result of a lot of industry development, including the essential work from The Ohio State University research team and sponsored research from the Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN). We are looking forward to working with the various interested stakeholders throughout the state and the FAA to learn from this system and to start scaling UAS operations throughout Ohio.” 

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. That’s nice but what happens when drones cross state lines and the adjoining state has a different traffic management system? I get that Ohio probably feels the FAA is moving too slowly and wants to accelerate the process. Maybe it will.

  2. “Without a robust traffic management system, BVLOS flight is not practical on a statewide scale.” That is an understatement. One can buy a drone for under $40 at big box stores. My neighbor kid got one, launched it for the first time from his driveway, it climbed out of site and was blown away by the wind. He had no control or was too young to understand. Who knows where it went. We live under frequent heavy traffic (C17/C130) for 82nd Airborne and JSOC training flight out of Fort Bragg, NC.

  3. I live inside a class Bravo surface to 10,000′ ring.
    How will you drone deliver to my doorstep?
    Just curious.

    • On Class Bravo and other things: Integrating the TSA’s proven drone detection technologies from Class B airports like LAX and Miami International could significantly support Ohio’s study for a low-altitude drone traffic management system. The TSA’s capability to identify unauthorized drone flights enhances airspace security, starting with Class B areas. Collaborative efforts between the TSA, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and the FAA might lead to setting advanced operation standards for drone traffic management. Ohio’s project has the potential to lead in establishing a nationally more secure and efficient drone traffic framework. An intriguing aspect of this integration is the ADS-B requirement, which would introduce a fascinating challenge: managing a screen filled with drone targets alongside traditional aircraft traffic, essentially flipping a big ATC “switch” between drone and aircraft modes.

      • Please do not use the word “security”.
        There is no security with low level drones, my friend.
        All the traffic barricades and airspace restrictions and F-16’s and barbed wire fences in the world can’t stop a single errant rc/drone.

        • I’m seeking clarity on your stance regarding “security.” When you advise against using the term “security” in the context of low-level drones, are you suggesting that although TSA’s security measures might counter specific threats effectively, the challenges that ATC faces in regulating low-altitude drone traffic are distinct and perhaps cannot be mitigated by the same security approaches?

          • ATC and TSA and FBI and local Five-0 are useless in actually stopping an errant rc/drone. There is no actual “security” if security is defined as meaning prevention. Since they cannot prevent errant(or intentionally damaging) use of drones, there is no security. Q.E.D.

            This has been my take since the beginning of promoting the use of small accurate airborne deliver systems. The problem is how easily “good” can be used for “bad”.

  4. Here’s my take on ODOT’s solo study; The proliferation of drone technology introduces challenges and opportunities for national SECURITY, aviation safety, and airspace management. Agencies such as the TSA, FAA, NORAD, and state departments like ODOT must collaborate (my point) to navigate these challenges effectively. An integrated system that enhances SECURITY measures across the military, DHS, and ATC is vital for safeguarding the national airspace.

    The FAA is fundamental in safely integrating drones into the National Airspace System, developing regulations and systems to ensure drones do not compromise manned aircraft operations while addressing SECURITY and privacy issues. NORAD’s advanced surveillance capabilities are essential for detecting airspace threats, including malicious drone activities, contributing to a comprehensive SECURITY strategy.

    TSA plays a complementary role by focusing on securing transportation infrastructures against drone threats, particularly around critical locations like airports. Its efforts in advancing DTI technologies demonstrate a proactive approach to evolving SECURITY needs due to drone proliferation.

    State-level insights, such as those from ODOT, offer valuable data from drone applications in traffic management and infrastructure maintenance. These insights are instrumental in shaping national drone integration and SECURITY strategies, highlighting the importance of learning from various operational experiences.

    Cross-agency collaboration and sharing of information are critical for a unified strategy that addresses drone integration operations while ensuring national SECURITY and airspace SECURITY. Drawing from each agency’s strengths and expertise ensures a comprehensive defense against threats and maximizes drone technology’s societal benefits and SECURITY.

    • Tell me exactly how “collaboration” will stop an undetectable low altitude drone attack anywhere? That’s why I said there is no security. All previous defenses on ground or air are useless.

      • I admit that no security measure can be entirely foolproof, however I firmly believe that a collaborative approach among agencies lessen evolving threats.

      • I am missing your point here. Putting it altogether it would seem you don’t want any oversight, collaboration, or regulation since nothing can stop an “undetectable” drone attack. Let’s just dump the whole rule and regs thing because we are all doomed.

        That about right?

        I’m trying to figure if you read the article, because this quote especially gets to the heart of it:

        “According to CAL Analytics, the system will provide digital tools to enable multiple UAS operators to share flight planning details, ultimately allowing safe “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS) drone flights.”

        This is not about security against your fearful attack drones, this is about managing the low altitude drones that will start to clutter the sky. ATC for drones and why is that a bad thing when it comes to commercial operations.

        Bad actors gonna be bad whether they load a plane with explosives and do something bad, whether they load a truck full of explosives and do something bad, or run around with semi-automatics and do something bad. Each has regulations to help the many even as there sadly will always be a bad actor. Structure allows good people to do good things without the fear of chaos. Ohio will have to figure how to build this federally, but as drones become more ubiquitous in our society, better to plan now, then scramble later.

  5. On the contrary, I want these things heavily regulated and away from existing air traffic! Keep them away from my airplane and from hitting each other. The point was that no one should include the word “security” in any of this since none exists and none is being put forward.

    • Your assertion that “no one should include the word ‘security’ in any of this since none exists and none is being put forward” is not accurate. SECURITY measures and considerations are indeed part of the ongoing discussions and developments in drone regulation and technology. Governments and aviation authorities worldwide are implementing and constantly updating regulations to ensure drones operate safely and securely. These include geofencing to prevent drones from flying in restricted areas, remote identification systems for tracking drones, and rules for how drones interact with manned aircraft. And as the drone airways thicken the more safety and SECURITY measures will spread. I don’t like drones over my head but they are coming. I’m getting a steel umbrella!