SKYTRAC Systems has confirmed that its Iridium Certus SATCOM system has been used by Platform Aerospace to enable Command and Control (C2), Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) communications, and telemetry streaming for its record-setting Vanilla Unmanned UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).
Vanilla Unmanned broke the FAI (World Air Sports Federation) world record for unrefuelled, internal combustion endurance of an unmanned aircraft, with the UAV being recovered 8 days, 50 minutes, and 47 seconds after its launch. As a long-endurance Group III UAS used for multi-day surveillance and inspection operations, this is a significant milestone for the Vanilla Unmanned platform.
Vanilla Unmanned was contracted by NASA to field the University of Kansas’ snow radar within the Arctic Circle to collect data on snow and ice thickness. Platform Aerospace selected and tested SKYTRAC’s Iridium Certus mid-band datalink, the DLS-100, to enable BVLOS Command and Control (C2) and telemetry capabilities for this mission.
By leveraging Iridium’s global connectivity and low latency, the DLS-100 supported the polar mission by enabling pilots from Ground Control Stations (GCS) to have real-time C2 with the UAV while simultaneously sending commands and receiving flight telemetry that ensured safe BVLOS operations.
Dr. Dan Edwards, Chief Technology Officer at Platform Aerospace, commented: “Maintaining aircraft C2 during BVLOS flight operations has been challenging since many datalink solutions are limited by range or geographic coverage. This flight in the Arctic demonstrated SKYTRAC’s global coverage, resiliency to extreme weather, and provided a low SWaP solution for connectivity onboard our ultra-long high endurance UAV missions.”
Jeff Sherwood, Director of Business Development at SKYTRAC, stated: “Congratulations to the Platform Aerospace team for their record-breaking flight. We are proud that our solutions are being used to extend the boundaries of what is possible with UAVs.”