SKYTRAC Systems, a provider of intelligent connectivity solutions for aviation, announced that Platform Aerospace, an unmanned aircraft systems producer, used SKYTRAC’s Iridium Certus Satcom system, to enable Command and Control (C2), Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) communications, and telemetry streaming onboard their record-setting Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Vanilla Unmanned.
On September 24th, Platform Aerospace launched Vanilla Unmanned and recovered the UAV 8 days, 50 minutes, and 47 seconds later on October 2nd, breaking the FAI world record for unrefueled, internal combustion endurance of an unmanned aircraft. As a long endurance Group III Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) used for multi-day surveillance and inspection operations, this is a significant milestone for Vanilla Unmanned.
Vanilla Unmanned, contracted by NASA, successfully fielded the University of Kansas’ snow radar within the Arctic Circle to collect data on snow and ice thickness. Platform Aerospace selected and tested SKYTRAC’s Iridium Certus mid-band datalink, the DLS-100, to enable BVLOS Command and Control (C2) and telemetry capabilities for this mission.
“Maintaining aircraft C2 during BVLOS flight operations has been challenging since many datalink solutions are limited by range or geographic coverage,” mentions Dr. Dan Edwards, chief technology officer at Platform Aerospace. “This flight in the Arctic demonstrated SKYTRAC’s global coverage, resiliency to extreme weather, and provided a low SWaP solution for connectivity onboard our ultra-long high endurance UAV missions.”
The two copmanies say by leveraging Iridium’s global connectivity and low latency, the DLS-100 supported the polar mission by enabling pilots from Ground Control Stations (GCS) to have real-time C2 with the UAV while simultaneously sending commands and receiving flight telemetry that ensured safe BVLOS operations.
“Congratulations to the Platform Aerospace team for their record-breaking flight,” mentions Jeff Sherwood, director of Business Development at SKYTRAC. “We are proud that our solutions are being used to extend the boundaries of what is possible with UAVs.”