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FCC-Authorized Operational C-Band BVLOS Operations Commence

The approval for SkyLink C-band radios at Choctaw Nation advances riskier BVLOS operations by enabling essential C2 infrastructure to operate on aviation-protected spectrum alongside other frequencies to deliver reliable command and control capabilities By Joe Macey / 22 Jun 2023
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uAvionix has received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to operate its SkyLink C-Band Command and Control (C2) radios for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Emerging Technology test site.

The radios operating on aviation-protected C-band frequencies will be controlled by uAvionix’s SkyLine cloud-based C2 network solution that combines fleet management, network health monitoring, detect & avoid, and seamless make-before-break roaming between multiple radio networks and ground stations.   

With the approval and previous uAvionix BVLOS Waiver, businesses seeking to use aviation-protected C-band and other radio networks, such as LTE, for assured Control and Non-Payload Communications (CNPC) can successfully develop, test and implement solutions for scalable business initiatives such as package delivery and medical resupply.

“In a short period of time, measured in months, uAvionix has achieved multiple BVLOS waivers and FCC approval for operation of C-band radios for critical command and control functions,” said Ryan Reed, General Manager, uAvionix. “Our continued success is a testament to the strength of our efforts with the Choctaw Nation and speaks volumes about our aviation-grade products and services. The SkyLine cloud-based network control and associated SkyLink and SkyStation radios are the first certifiable C2 network purpose built for BVLOS operations.”

uAvionix first obtained FAA approval to test its C-band C2 radios for compliance with RTCA DO-362A and an eventual TSO-C213a in Bigfork, Montana, and then at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) in August 2021. C2 radio design assurance is critical to meeting the criteria needed to manage risk during BVLOS operations and to meet the safety case requirements.

The successful FCC approval for use of the SkyLink C-band radios at the Choctaw Nation significantly advances riskier BVLOS operations by enabling essential C2 infrastructure to operate on aviation-protected spectrum alongside other frequencies such as LTE and Satcom to deliver reliable command and control capabilities. Utilizing the protected spectrum guards against interference or tampering and enables a consistent, assured connection to the aircraft that meets safety requirements.

The SkyLink Airborne Radios, SkyStation Ground Radios and SkyLine cloud-based link management system are deployed at the Choctaw Nation’s 44,500+ acre Emerging Aviation Technology Center. Four independent C-band radios are networked together through SkyLine. The system continually monitors each link to optimally determine the best link for reliable command and control and ensure make-before-break connections when switching between each available ground station. Additionally, Detect and Avoid (DAA) data from terrestrial sensors is delivered through the C-band radios.

“uAvionix is a phenomenal commercial partner in our Choctaw Nation emerging aviation activities, and we are always impressed by their pace of innovation,” added James Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “This latest FCC approval is a critical step for the industry as we move toward ubiquitous BVLOS operations, and will not only support our Choctaw Nation efforts, but also the industry at large.”

Interested businesses attempting to scale BVLOS operations should contact the Choctaw Nation and uAvionix to support implementation and scaling of uncrewed aerial system (UAS) operations with multiple C2 links including aviation protected C-band.

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