For what concerns the satcom component for the relay of RPAS C2 communications, stakeholders (satcom operator, satellite equipment manufacturer, etc) are facing many uncertainties regarding the regulatory aspects, despite the progress made by several bodies (among others ICAO UASSG, EUROCAE WG-73, RTCA SC-203, JARUS).The main uncertainties are :
- today no harmonized certification process/rules exists in Europe,
- certification requirements (including safety and security) are still to be specified,
- the needs in terms of system interoperability are also unclear,
The regulatory context is therefore not yet mature enough to enable the development/adaptation of satellite products (ground segment, avionics and even possibly space segment) to comply with regulatory requirements.
The first objective of CERES was to contribute to the definition of the regulatory process towards the certification and standardisation of satellite communications for the relay of RPAS C2 data, by:
- identifying potential certification requirements, in terms mainly of performances.
- proposing the regulatory approach for the certification of the satcom links/operator
- determining the standardisation needs at SatCom level, and, if any, identify possible candidates for such standards
Second, the study aimed at assisting the emergence of suitable satellite communication capabilities, especially through the definition of a proper demonstration step. WRC 2012 opened the path to several possible systems/services while WRC 2015 may extent the list of candidates. The uncertainty on the solutions that will be retained by the market in the future does not allow currently stakeholders to determine where investment should be made in terms of development/adaptation of existing or new satellite systems and products.. It is thus of prime importance to progress on the identification of the most suitable solutions, especially with respect to safety objectives, and to initiate, if deemed necessary, the associated standardization activities. To do so, the possible synergy with the terrestrial systems providing RLOS (Radio Line Of Sight) communications for the RPAS C2 link is one of the aspects to be considered.
The selected time frame is the ICAO ASBU1 (Aviation System Block Upgrade), in line with the ERSG (European RPAS Steering Group) roadmap which targets “restricted RPAS operations BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) /BRLOS (Beyond Radio Line Of Sight) /IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) (supported by SATCOM)” by 2018.
Except for very small ones, all types of RPA are considered. Indeed, while satellite communications are today mainly used on large military platforms (HALE and MALE) due to the size of Ku band satellite user terminals, the RPAS market, and especially the civil one, is taking off starting with small RPA, i.e. below 150 kg. Considering use cases that are emerging (e.g. power grid monitoring, pipeline monitoring, railway track monitoring), such small RPA will be utilized also for BRLOS operations. The satellite communication solution(s) must be thus able to address this market segment, especially through low SWaP (Size Weight and Power) AES (Airborne Earth Station).