FAA Awards uAvionix Contract to Scale C-Band Frequency Management for Regional UAS C2

uAvionix, a leading provider of avionics solutions for uncrewed and crewed aircraft, announced today that it has been awarded a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) contract to scale C-Band frequency management for Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) Command and Control (C2) communications to a regional level with multiple UAS operating in proximity to one another. The efforts mark a significant step toward broad commercialization of UAS by allowing multiple UAS, from different companies to operate near one another while maintaining reliable and deconflicted communications within the limited range of spectrum available for UAS operations.

“With the potential of hundreds, if not thousands, of drones being employed in a region for everything from medical delivery and first response to consumer services, it is critical that the communications links with each aircraft are reliable and do not suffer performance issues because of interference or congestion,” stated Cyriel Kronenburg of uAvionix. “Unlicensed spectrum has high levels of interference, so licensed spectrum is the answer, but licensed spectrum is limited and today we control its use by assigning it to aircraft through a lengthy, manual process and that simply won’t scale.”

UAS usage of licensed aeronautical spectrum, such as C-Band, for UAS C2 is currently done by exception, requiring both Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and FAA approval. With this high bar for operation, many UAS flights currently rely solely on unlicensed spectrum, particularly that in the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) band where high levels of interference can impact C2 communications performance and reliability. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directed the FAA and FCC to evaluate various spectrum allocations for UAS C2, leading to support for using 5030 to 5091 MHz as licensed and protected C-Band spectrum. However, effective spectrum management is vital to ensure the limited band is consistently and reliably allocated among multiple UAS operating in the same region.

Building on previous collaboration with the FAA, uAvionix demonstrated a Dynamic Frequency Management System (DFMS) for UAS C2 using the protected C-Band spectrum. Under this new contract, uAvionix will demonstrate the use of DFMS as a National Airspace C-Band frequency management application that meets regulatory policy and encourages commercial build-out of C2 Communications Service Provider (C2CSP) infrastructure.

The demonstration will showcase how organizations can dynamically assign available frequencies within the protected C-Band spectrum to multiple UAS operating near each other using the SkyLine Platform. These frequency assignments will be deconflicted and time-phased, ensuring consistent and reliable C2 communications throughout each flight.

This contract and the recently awarded FAA BAA for extending BVLOS operations in challenging terrain represent significant progress in the commercialization of UAS operations and their integration into the National Airspace System. Through the FAA and uAvionix collaboration, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations are closer to being a daily reality while ensuring a safer and more efficient UAS industry.

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