Last month, uAvionix announced the successful completion of the first series of flights with its newly developed SkyLink Control & Non-Payload Communications (CNPC) C-band radio, intended to meet the needs of safety-critical & BVLOS (Beyond Line-of-Sight Operations) missions as well as of operators and manufacturers with airframe certification in mind. The flight tests were conducted at a range of up to 25 miles at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) locations south of Grand Forks, ND. In August, uAvionix announced FAA and FCC approvals for testing C-band CNPC radios at several locations.

Regulators increasingly focus on the performance of safety-critical control data and recent RTCA standards recommend separating it from payload data for scalable commercial Unmanned Airborne Systems (UAS) operations. While most UAS still operate on public spectrum such as ISM or 4G, current BVLOS waivers are primarily focused on recovery procedures to deal with the probability of a lost C2 link.

uAvionix SkyLink CNPC radios and the paired SkyLine software application are entirely focused on preventing lost links, through aviation-grade software & hardware design, full compliance with RTCA Minimal Operational Performance Standards (MOPS DO-362A), and a network management system that monitors network and radio link health, built to Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards (MAPS DO-377A).

“A reliable and predictable C2 link built to aviation standards (e.g., RTCA DO-362A) is a critical component in obtaining scalable BVLOS operations,” said Jim Cieplak, Program Manager of Vantis. “The uAvionix SkyLink radios and SkyLine Command & Control infrastructure are an essential component of the Vantis deployment to obtain a path to commercially viable BVLOS operations in the State of North Dakota.”

The SkyLink C Band CNPC radio is fully DO-362A compliant utilizing key concepts such as the ability to accept dynamic frequency inputs for Frequency Allocation Management (FAM) and protected aviation spectrum in order to provide a stable and predictable C2 link performance. SkyLink radios are built to anticipated TSO C-213A standards and targeted at demanding customers including those pursuing airframe certification.

“Together with our partners at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, VANTIS, Thales, the FAA, and MITRE, we completed this significant milestone which will propel commercial UAS operations”, said Christian Ramsey, President of uAvionix. “We maintained a stable connection at a range of well over 25 miles at a 400’ operating altitude with a DO-362A compliant radio system, a first of its kind”

Why it matters: SkyLink technologies provides the data exchange required for safety-critical operations to control, monitor, and manage a UAS in real-time. SkyLink radios seamlessly integrate with other certified avionics designed with airframe certification in mind. SkyLink offers eVTOL and UAS manufacturers a certification-compatible solution for reliable beyond visual line of sight radio communications and control. With the current debate of 5G and its effects on commercial aviation operations, developing safe and redundant datalinks for scaled UAS operations will be critical to the UAS industry’s success.

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