AURA, FAA to Develop Drone Communication Standards

AURA Network Systems and the Federal Aviation Administration recently signed a four-year cooperative research and development agreement to research performance standards for air traffic control voice communications supporting drone operations within the national airspace system.

[Above photo by the FAA]

AURA said this project would help FAA develop “eventual regulations” for drone communications governing everything from cargo flights to infrastructure inspections and first-responder operations.

Photo by the FAA

The joint research project seeks to inform RTCA DO-377 Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards for voice communications supporting drone operations. Previously known as the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics, RTCA develops technical guidance for both government regulatory authorities and industry.

AURA said in a statement it would use the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center, located near Atlantic City, N.J., to conduct this project, which seeks to measure latency and evaluate voice quality/speech intelligibility of air-to-ground radio-path transmissions between drone pilots and air traffic controllers.

State departments of transportation are also involved in similar drone research efforts across the country.

For example, the Michigan Department of Transportation is one of several state agencies that will work with the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network or OVNI to explore operating small drones beyond the line of sight of a pilot for just-in-time deliveries, medical transport needs, and other “small-scale” deployments.

The aeronautics division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation recently began working with drone provider Skyports to demonstrate how drone services could link communities across the Cape Cod region.

MassDOT said it is investigating the use of drones as a solution to connecting its remote communities to everyday services such as healthcare and logistics, and in particular is looking to develop a capability to provide emergency medical delivery after storms or other natural disasters.

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