Most drones, even autonomous ones, will need some form of data link. This could be for command and control, payload, collision avoidance, communication with the UTM system etc. Many technologies exist for data link from within and without the aviation world and it is necessary to identify which technologies are suitable for use to enable safe and efficient drone operations. Each technology places demands on both supporting networks and the electromagnetic spectrum. Given the potential volume of drones that may be operating, it is critical to understand the ability of scarce spectrum resources to support such datalink requirements, and to ensure that drone operations using these technologies do not adversely interfere with manned aviation.
In reference to the SJU Annual Work Programme 2016, this topics covers Section 3.5.3 (e) 2) topic b).
This topic covers all issues concerning use of data link for drones. It should explore technological solutions, their limitations, their relevance and their performance requirements, including usage of spectrum. However, any data links concerned with drone payload operations are not in scope of this project, unless they are dual-use. In that case, the safety, redundancy and performance issues associated with dual-use technology should be addressed. The topic should also cover the network issues associated with the use of drone data links, including options for implementing a suitable network or networks, such as use of mobile telecommunications networks.
It is likely that drones of different classes will have very different requirements. A range of drone types should be examined, and a scenario-based approach may be considered.
Data links are an essential component of drone operation. The wide variety of drones entering service, and the wide range of missions for which they are likely to be used, means that it is vital to ensure that data links used are safe, effective, meet appropriate performance requirements and do not adversely affect that spectrum protected for use by aviation stakeholders. It is essential to understand these issues and ensure that they are well controlled in order for drones to be safely integrated with manned aviation.