The 7 th International Scientific Conference DEFENSE RESOURCES MANAGEMENT IN THE 21st CENTURY Braşov, November 15 th 2012

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1 The 7 th International Scientific Conference DEFENSE RESOURCES MANAGEMENT IN THE 21st CENTURY Braşov, November 15 th 2012 COMMUNICATION ISSUES OF UAV 1 INTEGRATION INTO NON 1 st. Lt. Gábor Pongrácz, ATM expert Lt. Col. Matyas, PALIK (PhD), Associate Professor Aviation Division/Departmnet for Planning and Coordination/Ministry of Defence/Budapest/Hungary Military Aviation Department/Faculty of Military Sciences and Officer Training/ National University of Public Service/Szolnok/Hungary Abstract: The constantly raising need of the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles and systems into the future ATM 2 environment poses a significant challenge to all stakeholders of aviation. This study within the Új Széchenyi Terv (New Plan Szechenyi) TÁMOP B-11/2/KMR-2011-Critical infrastructure defending research tender, and its subordinated plan, called Data integration, which highlighted project is the Operations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and its aspects for Air Safety concentrates on the issue of communication between unmanned systems and air traffic services or air navigation service providers, highlighting the issue of safety and security risks of future unmanned aerial systems communication concepts. In this perspective the safety of UAS 3 operations are highly dependent on redundant communication channels connecting the UAS operator to its vehicle and to the air traffic services. Further serious issue can be revelled in the field of security matters of communication links, like unlawful interaction into unmanned operations. Key words: Unmanned, aviation, communication, ATM, issue, ATC 4, control, radio, risk. 1. Implementing UAV into non-segregated airspaces Remotely piloted air vehicles have been used by the military for some considerable time and this technology is now finding applications within the civil environment with similar benefits in reducing human life exposure in long, dull, dirty and/or dangerous air missions. They are referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and operated either by a remote operator through radio-transmission facilities or following a pre-programmed flight pass, hence the broader concept of unmanned airborne systems or UAS. The tasks of these civilian UAV will be similar to those of traditional civilian piloted aircraft while they also enable new tasks to improve human security and global Earth s surface surveillance. Besides future civilian use of UAS technology we may also expect non-military 1 UAV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 2 ATM: Air Traffic Management 3 UAS: Unmanned Aircraft System 4 ATC: Air Traffic Control

2 governmental applications, like police, border guard, disaster management surveillance etc. A particular point is that the widely anticipated full scale development of these civilian UAV calls for their seamless operation with existing piloted aircraft in non-segregated airspace to ease today s operational constraints on their flight routes planning in coordination with ATC. With some exceptions current regulations of UAS operations orders the UAV to remain in segregated airspaces, thus assuring separation from manned aviation. With the constantly raising need to integrate UAS to non-segregated, civil used airspaces relevant aviation related international organizations, such as EUROCONTROL 5, FAA 6, ICAO 7, EASA 8 and national experts are assessing the possible risks and mitigations. During the examinations all stakeholders state that the most crucial point of the integration is that it cannot lower the current safety level of civil aviation. While establishing the baselines for civil UAV flights in non-segregated airspaces we also have to examine those certain security issues which may rise from the nature of this kind of operations. 2. The communication issue There are significant activities taking place to establish the procedures and requirements for safe and routine operation of UAS in non-segregated airspaces. Among the barriers to overcome in achieving this goal is the communication link for the UAS control and air traffic control. During the assessment of UAS integration we have come to a conclusion that the best and most practical way without endangering the current level of aviation safety is to try to stay in line with those procedures and regulations which are in place for manned aviation, meaning that instead of building up a completely new system from the ground, assess the current set of rules and regulations of aviation and identify those crucial points, which cannot be applicable for UAS operation. In this perspective as far as it s feasible we try to handle the UAS as conventional aircraft, however certain differences will show up almost immediately. The first and most obvious difference is that there are no crew on board, which brings up most of the questions like how is in charge of the aircraft or how can the crew maintain separation from other conventional air traffic, and as our current subject: how will the pilot in command communicate with the relevant air traffic controller. The difference in communication is quite clear: instead of usual air to ground communication we have to ensure a secure ground to ground communication between the ATC and the UAV ground control station. This can be identified as an issue, especially in cases when the UAV operator is located in a significant distance from the UAV operational area. The current air to ground communication system regulation is dealing with standard radio communication, when a direct connection between the aircraft and the ATC is established. Obviously the curvature of the Earth will prevent most of such ground to ground communications, so the current system won t be applicable for ATC and GCS 9 5 EUROCONTROL: European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation 6 FAA: Federal Aviation Administration (USA) 7 ICAO: International Civil Aviation Organization 8 EASA: European Aviation Safety Agency 9 GCS: Ground Control Station

3 transmissions. As landline telephone connection can solely serve coordination tasks, the real time two way communications must still be established. Because of the fact that due to the need of communication between the UAV and its operator there must be a permanent link between them even in cases when the UAV is flying a pre-programmed path, without the intervention of its operator (especially if we are speaking about UAV using civil used airspaces as general air traffic) this line of communication may be extended to transmit GCS-ATC radio communication as well. Installing a radio communication relay to the UAV itself communication line can be established between the UAV operators the relevant air traffic service provider. Measuring the potential options of solving communication issue the usage of the UAV as a relay station between the GCS and the ATC is a reasonable solution. This approach means that the direct GCS transmission will be received and forwarded back to the ground by the UAV, ensuring that the ground based ATC radio receivers will receive the transmission almost instantly. Figure 1: Standard communication link 10 At this point UAV communication operations may be separated into two categories: - In line of sight: this option may be applicable for small or medium type UAVs, where the ground control station is able to establish direct radio communication or data link with the UAV without using any further relay stations. - Beyond Line of Sight: Another specific point for UAS is the requirement for satellite communications to relay communications beyond line-of-sight limits and thus maintain mission and safety of flight beyond terrestrial communication and surveillance means. This application is mostly interpreted for high altitude long endurance UAVs where the ground control station may even be on a different continent. During such kind of missions the operators are dependent on some kind of relay station, like satellites, to be able to monitor the flight of their 10

4 vehicle. This operation means that the radio transmission from the GCS to ATC or backwards will required to run through at least two relay stations: the satellite, and the UAV itself. In both cases the best solution for providing real time radio communication with ATC is to use the UAV itself as a relay station to the relevant ATC, although this option will place previously unknown system elements to the ATM structure (relayed communication). According to international regulations, in each and every case when a new system element is being implemented to the existing system a safety assessment must be done prior to the implementation. Whilst a failure or interruption of any element of the relay architecture may not constitute a direct safety hazard, such problems can contribute to an operational incident (the so called chain of events). For example, loss of voice communications with a UAV pilot could increase ATC workload, which could lead to a more serious incident (i.e. loss of separation). When considering the generic safety performance the following events are considered to be hazardous: - Loss of voice communications between UAV/S pilot and ATC; - Interruptions to voice communications between UAV pilot and ATC; - Intelligibility and latency of voice communications between UAV pilot and ATC; - Loss of command and control link between UAV and GCS; - Interruption of command and control link between UAV and ATC (due to system reliability). Figure2: UAV-GCS communication options While the usage of the UAV as a relay may show an acceptable answer for the GCS communication with ATC, on the other hand the question of radio frequency allocation

5 will instantly appear. Even the current ATM system has faced the issue of lack of available frequencies to be used for air traffic controlling and UAS needs further more spacing in frequency allocation for command and control links as well. This shortcoming is compounded by the fact that the UAS control communications links will likely be required to operate in protected frequency spectrum, just as ATC communications links are, because they relate to safety and regularity of flight. If ATM-UAS communication will be solved on a way where the UAV itself is also operating as a relay station, it will mean that we require at least a doubled frequency spectrum, one for reaching our craft, and another to use the ATC frequency. Furthermore to protect current safety level of aviation and to avoid the above mentioned risks, the whole system must be backed up as well. The above mentioned communication solution is currently incompliant with the relevant regulations, and doubling the communication ways used (satellite plus radio) almost doubles the safety risk factors that can rise. 3. Conclusion Communication related matters are only one aspect of the of UAV/UAS integration into non-segregated airspace, still the question may raise such issues frequency allocation that may hinder success of all effort. The usage of UAV as a relay station may give a feasible solution for UAV-ATC communication; however it has to be subject of several safety assessments to ensure proper regulations. As a partial result of on-going studies the fact of necessity of UAS integration cannot be ignored nor by governmental, neither by the civil side. Realizing the constantly growing need for proper regulations to enable UAS operations opening a new era in civil aviation the task is given. Our Department of Military Aviation will continue the UAV operator training and also the connected research and analysis of related regulators which was realized through the assistance of the European Union, with the co-financing of the European Social Fund. "Critical Infrastructure Protection Research TÁMOP B-11/2/KMR " it enjoys the support. References: [1] International Civil Aviation Organization: Rules of the Air, Annex 2; [2] EUROCONTROL: Specifications for the Use of Military UAVs as Operational Air Traffic Outside Segregated Airspace, Edition: 1.0, [3] Petit D. (ANFR) - Delrieu A. (DGAC): Spectrum for UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems): Status of WRC-2007 preparation and proposal for a new agenda item for

6 WRC-2011, [4] Palik M.: Need for unmanned aircraft system, Military Engineer, Budapest, ZMNDU, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2007) p.: , [2] GAIT: Integrating Unmanned Aircraft into Non-Segregated Airspace Discussion of a Special Purpose Code to Indicate Lost Link, Final Draft, 81ab7c28dfb9/Global%20Airspace%20Integration.pdf

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