BT and uAvionix SkyLine demonstrate flights using cloud-based communications over C-band and LTE

BT Group and SkyLift, a provider of turnkey Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) solutions for logistical and time-critical operations, have successfully conducted demonstration flights using uAvionix’s SkyLine cloud-based command and control (C2) system communicating over C-Band and LTE.  The flights achieve two UK firsts for UAS operations; operational Command and Non-Payload Communications (CNPC) C2 systems using C-Band and LTE via BT’s Drone SIM and secondly the transmission of ADS-B OUT on 978 MHz for detect and avoid (DAA) operations.  Operators now have access to assured CNPC C2 communications for UAS and Electronic Conspicuity (EC) technology that meets the new UK CAA proposed Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) UAS EC standard for safe operation of BVLOS missions in an integrated airspace, says the press release.

The SkyLift team operated its fixed wing UAS from Bentwaters Park, an ex-Royal Air Force/USAF airfield two hours from London utilizing their SkyFleet Ground Control System. Nearby Adastral Park, home of BT Group’s innovation labs, served as the location for a fixed, remote ground radio station (GRS) approximately 12 kilometers southwest. There are multiple BT LTE towers in the area and two mobile GRS with LTE backhaul connectivity were also deployed.

Two flights were conducted to independently verify the BT Drone SIM connection and the uAvionix aviation C-Band data links.  The third and final flight demonstrated the optimized use of both the BT Drone SIM and aviation C-Band datalinks for fully operational CNPC C2.  Successful link management and make-before-break connections between the two datalinks were achieved using the uAvionix SkyLine UAS BVLOS cloud-based service and hardware including a SkyStation5060POE GRS, two SkyStation5060LTE mobile GRS, a muLTElink5060 airborne radio system with the BT Drone SIM, and a uAvionix truFYX GPS installed on the aircraft.  In concert, the flight also demonstrated the use of ADS-B OUT transmission from the aircraft on 978 MHz for Electronic Conspicuity.  The signal was provided by a uAvionix microUAT device.

Toby Moores, SkyLift CEO said: “Use of SkyLine with BT’s Drone SIM and aviation C-Band for Command and Control coupled with ADS-B OUT for Electronic Conspicuity and the SkyFleet Ground Control System provided our operators continuous, assured control of the aircraft and unparalleled situational awareness throughout all the flights.  The technology was easily integrated into our aircraft and ground control system and deployed through a process that we can quickly replicate for businesses seeking to achieve scalable BVLOS operations.”

Ed Hunter, Senior Product Manager – Drones at Etc said: “Collaborating with SkyLift and uAvionix brought together two cloud-based systems powered by EE’s advanced LTE connectivity and purpose-built Drone SIM, which is currently being trialed across the UK to deliver ultra reliable communications that can be scaled across many industries, from drone-enabled medical deliveries to power line inspections and search and rescue.”

BT Group and uAvionix are developing and implementing communications networks for command, navigation, and surveillance of UAS in the UK.  Their combined success at Bentwaters Park enables further scaling of infrastructure across the country for an increasing number of operators, says the press release.

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