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Skyward and FAA to trial cellular-connected drones

By Chris Stonor

Skyward, a company acquired by Verizon four years ago, has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to trial cellular-connected drones, reports gpsworld.comCellular-connected drones could unlock complex operations including beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and universal traffic management (UTM).

The MOA enables cellular technologies to support drone operations where Skyward and the FAA will jointly research the capabilities of such communication networks for command and control (C2) within the National Airspace System.

This three-year agreement partly focuses on safety-critical C2 data, as well as BVLOS employing the commercial wireless spectrum. Skyward, Verizon are also to use the data and information collected in the course of the MOA to inform its discussions on C2 and Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations in the FAA’s BVLOS Advisory and Rulemaking Committee.

At present, a majority of commercial drones employ unlicensed spectrum that is restricted in range and subject to interference, therefore, limiting its use for complex operations. Verizon’s 4G LTE nationwide coverage is protected from such interference, therefore, presenting a greater opportunity for drone operations.

“The MOA will inform regulations regarding spectrum used in the C2 link between the drone operator and drone,” writes “The MOA will also facilitate information sharing between the FAA and Skyward as the parties continue to explore how wireless networks can support drone operations.”

Matt Fanelli

Matt Fanelli, Director of Strategy and Operations at Skyward, commented, “Cellular-connected drones play a critical role in enabling tomorrow’s safe, reliable and secure drone operations.” He continued, “We are thrilled to be laying this foundation with the FAA and are confident that our efforts will help inform technical standards from which industry regulations authorizing low-risk BVLOS and one-to-many operations will flow.”

For more information

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(Top Photo: A Censys Technologies Sentaero equipped with a Verizon 4G/LTE link. Pic: Skyward)

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