Top-Flight Teamwork

Before the jamming incident, NovAtel had a fairly straightforward supplier-customer relationship, with Schiebel happily using NovAtel’s standard GNSS receivers and antennas, with some limited support from the Canadian company from time to time.

But, Day says, “When the jamming issues arose, that’s when NovAtel and Schiebel became true partners.”

“As Chris says,” Soar responds, “our relationship has deepened with the need to install GPS Anti-Jam Technology. As Schiebel was our lead customer for live deployment—others had conducted tests before but not deployed—it was necessary to work very closely with them. Schiebel have, in turn, provided some extremely useful feedback.”

On the NovAtel side, portfolio manager Neil Gerein and Jerry Freestone, the company’s chief engineer for antennas and anti-jam products, ensured that NovAtel operations were briefed on their customer’s need, timescales, and readiness, and that quality and delivery targets were achieved. At Schiebel, electronics developer Dr. Andreas “Andi” Polzer executed the re-fit quickly and efficiently.

Since its collaboration with Schiebel, Soar says, NovAtel has been working to raise GAJTAE-N, and indeed the rest of the GAJT product range, to Technology Readiness Level 8 (TRL‑8) as a fully released product.

Schiebel WorkingThe unit is delivered in a self-contained enclosure designed with connectivity and thermal management in mind, Soar says, but manufacturers in aerospace, especially of smaller platforms like the CAMCOPTER® S-100, are obliged to balance performance against power requirements, and the size and mass of the package.

So, he adds, taking these considerations into account, along with specific feedback from Schiebel on the GAJT-AE-N, NovAtel is now actively developing a down-sized version in which the full enclosure is replaced by a rail system that still maintains the boards at the correct offset position and sees to thermal management, but in a smaller and lighter bundle.

NovAtel’s GAJT-AE-N, with the necessary CRPA, is now being offered by Schiebel as a standard option to authorized customers who have a GPS anti-jam requirement.

Day says that the CAMCOPTER® S-100 is the only UAS in its class to be able to operate in GPS denied environments. It is certainly the only UAS in its class using GAJT at the moment in an operational deployment.

Schiebel was early to market with a winning UAS design, and have been successful both in engineering and marketing its capabilities. “And unlike some of their competitors,” says Soar, “Schiebel has demonstrated the ability to build and deliver systems to quantity and on time.”

As a medium-sized enterprise with around 230 employees, Schiebel easily goes head-to-head with big aerospace companies, and often wins.

“The bottom line,” says Soar, “is that the CAMCOPTER® S-100 was grounded as a result of aggressive deliberate jamming while conducting vital operational missions. With GAJT fitted, it is now flying that mission again.”