uAvionix Secures FAA Contract to Expand BVLOS Operations in Challenging Terrains, Partners with Alaska Test Site

uAvionix, specializing in avionics solutions for uncrewed and crewed aircraft, has been granted a significant Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) contract aimed at expanding the commercial utilization of UAS within the National Airspace System (NAS). This FAA Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) contract underscores a concerted effort to advance Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations, particularly across the demanding landscapes such as those found in Alaska.

This initiative is poised to develop an unprecedented Command and Control (C2) communications system designed for extended BVLOS operations, overcoming the formidable barriers posed by remote and mountainous terrains. By partnering with the University of Alaska Fairbanks UAS Test Site, uAvionix is set to harness the capabilities of its Link Executive Manager (LEM) to amalgamate LTE, Iridium SATCOM, and C-Band communications. This trinity of links aims to provide an uninterrupted and reliable C2 connection during long-range BVLOS flights along an Alaskan pipeline, marking a significant leap in operational reliability and safety.

The essence of this project lies in its innovative approach to C2 communications, transcending the limitations of conventional systems that typically depend on a single active link backed by a standby alternative. Given the challenging conditions in regions like Alaska, the availability of these links can be severely compromised, escalating the risks associated with BVLOS operations. In contrast, uAvionix’s system integrates cellular networks, Iridium SATCOM, and aviation protected C-Band into a robust C2 communications framework. This framework is distinguished by its multiple concurrent links that leverage both frequency and path diversity, substantially mitigating the risk of lost connections over challenging topographies.

Central to this advanced system is the Link Executive Manager (LEM), operated through the SkyLine cloud-based platform. This technology ensures seamless and automatic transitioning between communication mediums to maintain optimal connectivity, regardless of terrestrial obstacles. The forthcoming test flights at the Alaska UAS test site will serve as a critical proving ground for achieving the desired path and link diversity, given the site’s limitations in cellular coverage, the high costs associated with tower installations, and the natural barriers posed by the terrain.

Christian Ramsey, uAvionix’s Managing Director for Uncrewed Aviation, emphasized the company’s proven history of collaboration and achievements with the FAA. This contract not only reinforces their commitment to pioneering BVLOS operations but also to enhancing the commercial viability of UAS operations while upholding the safety and efficiency of UAS operations.