FAA Awards Aura Research Agreement to Test ATC Communications for UAS
Tuesday, February 01, 2022 | Comments

AURA Network Systems (AURA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) entered into a four-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to help determine performance standards for air traffic control (ATC) voice communications supporting unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) within the national airspace system (NAS).

The project is essential to eventual regulations empowering applications ranging from cargo flights to infrastructure inspections and first-responder operations.

“AURA considers it a privilege to continue working with the FAA and other federal agencies to enhance the commercial viability of the UAS market,” said Aura Cofounder and CEO Bill Tolpegin. “We look forward to utilizing our secure, private network to deliver our ATC voice solution and, ultimately, our beyond visual line of sight capabilities to support advanced levels of autonomy for safe UAS integration into the national airspace.”

The joint FAA-AURA effort expected to get underway this month is designed to better inform RTCA DO-377 Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards (MASPS) for Air Traffic Control (ATC) voice communications supporting UAS operations within the NAS. The Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) develops technical guidance for both government regulatory authorities and industry.

AURA Cofounder and President Tamara Casey said the public-private partnership will focus on research with the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center, located near the Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.

“This collaboration with the nation’s premier transportation system laboratory allows us to continue building our partnerships with both regulators and innovators on the path to unlocking the tremendous potential of UAS," Casey said.

The joint project will test latency and evaluate voice quality/speech intelligibility of air-to- ground radio-path transmissions between UAS pilots and FAA voice-switch air traffic controller positions. The provision of ATC voice communications relayed through an unmanned aircraft is a unique offering of AURA, and integration with the FAA voice systems is an essential step toward gaining regulatory approval for the service.

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