uAvionix and Choctaw Nation commence FCC-authorised operational C-Band BVLOS operations

Navigation and surveillance specialist uAvionix has received FCC approval, coordinated with the 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 supports fleet management, network health monitoring, detect & avoid, and roaming between multiple radio networks and ground stations.

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 (4) 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.

According to the press release, with the 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.

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 needed to meet the criteria needed to manage risk during BVLOS operations and to meet the safety case requirements. The FCC approval for use of the SkyLink C-band radios at the Choctaw Nation advances riskier BVLOS operations by enabling essential C2 infrastructure to operate on aviation-protected spectrum along-side other frequencies such as LTE and Satcom to deliver reliable command and control capabilities. Utilizing the protected spectrum guards against interference or tampering and is designed to provide a consistent, assured connection to the aircraft that meets safety requirements.

Interested businesses attempting to scale BVLOS operations can 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.

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.”

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