Avionics Solution Enables BVLOS Drone Flight Test


In collaboration with the University of Iowa’s Operator Performance Lab (OPL), Rockwell Collins recently controlled an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) by using its end-to-end UAS integrated avionics solution.

According to the company, the test flight was a key milestone toward UAS operations beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight (BVLOS).

The company’s solution, which is optimized for the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS), includes as follows:

  • A ground control station based on Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion – an integrated avionics solution certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency;
  • A command and control network that uses Rockwell Collins’ CNPC-1000 command and control data link, which the company says is the first UAS data link to implement the recommended Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics Special Committee-228 UAS Minimum Operational Performance Standards for UAS Command and Control; and
  • Rockwell Collins’ Athena UAS avionics with integrated navigation and flight controls – which have logged over 1 million hours of operations.

“A number of industries are very eager to use commercial UAS to make their operations much more efficient, especially those that need to monitor and inspect critical infrastructure such as railroads, pipelines and powerlines,” says John Borghese, vice president of Rockwell Collins’ Advanced Technology Center. “In order to do that beyond line of sight in the NAS, safe and secure avionics must be implemented. We have now proven that it can be done, and we are one step closer to making it a reality for this market.”

“Collaboration between private and public sectors is critical to ensuring the success of commercial UAS in the NAS,” adds Dr. Thomas Schnell, director of the University of Iowa’s OPL, which provided two TBM-3M, aka “Ferox,” UAS for the flight testing.

Rockwell Collins notes that its end-to-end UAS integrated avionics solution is optimized to scale for small to large UAS.

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