Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG 2015

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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36 unmanned systems inside September/October 2015 AIR SPECTRUM A n international proposal set for debate in November could carve out the fre- quencies needed for beyond–line-of- sight flights by unmanned aircraft in countries around the world. The proposal, to be considered by the Interna- tional Telecommunication Union, would create a new frequency allocation for control and non-pay- load communications (CNPC) between operators and unmanned aircraft on long distance flights. The ITU has already agreed on frequencies for flights that stay in visual range though the U.S. has yet to implement them. When the ITU meets at World Radiocommu- nication Conference (WRC) 2015 in Geneva it will have nearly all of November to work though sev- eral different proposals for the allocation includ- ing one from the Inter-American Telecommuni- cation Commission (CITEL), which includes the United States. That proposal builds on findings in an ITU study that suggested portions of the fre- quency bands 10.95-14.5 GHz and 17.3-30.0 GHz could be used use by Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The frequencies fall in the band used by fixed satellite services—that is satellites that serve receiving stations at fixed locations on the ground. If an agreement can be reached at the WRC the allocation will be roughly consistent world wide—a boon for operators and manufacturers. In addition to the U.S. and CITEL, the un- manned association AUVSI and the Aerospace Industries Association will be at WRC lending their support. A key point of debate likely will be about whether or not the frequencies should be given extra safety-of-life protection according to a story in AUVSI's Mission Critical magazine. by Dee Ann Divis New frequencies become available in the U.S. as negotiators get set to carve out global spectrum for beyond-line-of-site fl ights. Photos courtesy of PrecisionHawk There are other considerations as well, suggest- ed an expert on the frequency discussions. The Europeans opposed the American sup- ported proposal, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to be able to discuss the sensitive matter freely. Rather than just adding the unmanned aircraft activity to the band as a secondary user class they want to recast the band to include mobile satellites—that is sat- ellites that serve mobile users on the ground. This seems appropriate in that UAS are mobile users. But, the source explained, that triggers technical issues including how interference will be treated. There are also commercial concerns. The Europeans, the source suggested, would like to have such an allocation to also use for new mobile satellite services—something other nations won't like at all. "They don't want to swamp the band with a thousand different mobile services," the source said. To make the U.S. position more appealing, the expert explained, proponents included a provi- sion requiring the use of internationally accepted standards of safe operation. Specifically the pro- posal mandates that governments "ensure the use of UAS CNPC links and their associated perfor- mance requirements shall be in accordance with the international standards and recommended practices (SARPS) and procedures established by ICAO consistent with Article 37 of the Con- vention on International Civil Aviation." ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations. The problem is that there are no such SARPs for unmanned aircraft. ICAO only began work- NEW FREQUENCIES FOR LONG-DISTANCE UAS ON THE TABLE Researchers work with a PrecisionHawk.

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