Rockwell Collins and NASA complete first communication tests aimed at safely integrating unmanned aerial systems in the national airspace

Data link waveform prototype tested to simulate UAS communication systems

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (June 17, 2013) – Rockwell Collins and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently completed the first in a series of risk reduction tests that will eventually help enable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to safely operate in the national airspace.

The data link waveform tests, performed as part of the first of three research phases on the program, simulated communication between one aircraft and one ground-based pilot station. The objective of the test was to verify the waveform’s efficient and cooperative utilization of the radio spectrum on which it operates.

“There are a number of areas where the ability to safely operate unmanned systems in U.S. airspace will provide significant benefits, including public safety enhancements, agricultural solutions, and other applications that are unforeseen today,” said Dave Schreck, director of UAS and Control Technologies for Rockwell Collins. “However, we all agree that there are many considerations that must be thoroughly researched to allow the safe, efficient and routine operation of unmanned systems in the national airspace. Our collaborative effort with NASA to examine the communication implications is an excellent example of the extensive research that is underway.”

Further testing on this system will occur on a NASA-owned Lockheed S-3 Viking aircraft at the Eastern Iowa Airport throughout the week. The news media is invited to the Rockwell Collins hangar at noon on June 18, where Rockwell Collins and NASA representatives will be available for interviews.

This project, co-funded by Rockwell Collins, develops an open, non-proprietary data link waveform that eventually will be released as a public resource. It will help both the industry and the Federal Aviation Administration develop an appropriate set of rules and requirements for reliable unmanned flight operations in the national airspace system.

To read more about this topic, please visit the NASA Aeronautics home page at

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