Skyward and Federal Aviation Administration to test cellular-connected drones – sUAS News



PORTLAND, OREGON – Skyward, a Verizon company, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test cellular-connected drones. This announcement reaffirms that drone technology like the software developed by Skyward is one of the innovations needed to enable cellular connected drones to unlock complex operations such as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), universal management. traffic (UTM) and one-to-many operations.

Entitled “Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – Cellular Technologies to Support UAS Activities”, the MOA enables Skyward and the FAA to mutually seek the capabilities of cellular communication networks for command and control (C2) within the National Airspace. System. Partially focused on security-critical C2 data, the three-year MOA also allows the two groups to propose standards for operations, including BVLOS and on the commercial wireless spectrum. Skyward and Verizon will also use the data and information collected during the MOA to inform their discussions on C2 and BVLOS operations within the FAA’s BVLOS Advisory and Rules Development Committee.

“Cellular-connected drones play a critical role in enabling the safe, reliable and secure drone operations of tomorrow,” said Matt Fanelli, director of strategy and operations at Skyward, a Verizon company. “We are excited to lay this groundwork with the FAA and are confident that our efforts will help inform the technical standards from which industry regulations will flow to allow low-risk BVLOS and one-to-many operations. “

Today, most commercial drones use unlicensed spectrum, which is narrow in range and prone to interference, which limits its use for complex operations. Verizon’s national 4G LTE coverage, delivered over interference-protected spectrum, presents a huge opportunity for drone operations. The MOA will inform the regulations regarding the spectrum used in the C2 link between the drone operator and the drone. The MOA will also facilitate information sharing between the FAA and Skyward, leveraging Verizon’s expertise in wireless networks, as the parties continue to explore how wireless networks can support operations. drones.

The MOA builds on previous industry collaborations with the FAA, but is intended to address complex UAS operations through joint data collection and analysis. The agreement also follows The emergency exemption announced by Skyward to inspect critical communications infrastructure near the Big Hollow fire in Washington in September 2020. The first fully remote BVLOS operation known to the industry without a pilot or visual observer on site demonstrated a low risk operation as well as a need to analyze and share data entirely remotely with standards bodies and the FAA.


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