- Memorandum of understanding signifies a major step towards safely integrating remotely piloted cargo aircraft to meet growing demand for air freight
London. 13 March 2023. Inmarsat has announced a collaboration with Reliable Robotics, a leader in safety-enhancing aircraft automation systems, to support the safe, secure and efficient integration of remotely piloted aircraft systems into the US National Airspace System and airspace worldwide.
Inmarsat’s Velaris satellite communications service provides connectivity between remote pilots and aircraft for airspace access, including voice and digital communication links with air traffic control. By using existing certified airframes and commercial satellite networks, this new operating model can be brought to market quickly, without costly infrastructure, to expand the operational range for Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS).
Automation and remotely piloted aircraft could be key to supporting the future growth of freight volumes and alleviating the pressure on stretched supply chains, particularly for time-sensitive deliveries. Reliable Robotics is driving the industry forward with the automation of cargo aircraft to increase safety, improve efficiency and open up more routes to regional airports. However, automated aircraft technologies must be highly reliable and achieve required global certifications and regulatory safety approvals to gain access to airspace.
Joel Klooster, Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety, Inmarsat Aviation, said “Secure and consistent transmission of digital commands, telemetry and voice data is critical to remote aircraft operation, where availability and integrity of the link are essential to the overall performance. We’re proud to play a crucial role in bringing this world-first satcom solution to market with Reliable Robotics.”
Velaris, powered by Inmarsat’s ultra-high reliability ELERA network, will provide a secure command and control (C2) link to seamlessly connect Reliable’s remote pilots to its aircraft fleet with comprehensive coverage for communications. A connection is established using a small onboard satellite terminal and information flows through a private network, allowing the system to scale with demand. The equipment is designed to meet the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s recognised means of compliance and technical standards for airborne avionics.
Myles Goeller, Chief Business Officer at Reliable Robotics, said “We greatly appreciate the time and resources Inmarsat has devoted to tailor a global satellite communications solution to our technical, certification and commercial needs. It is exciting to work with Inmarsat to deploy a robust satcom system that will support the scaling of remotely operated aircraft and allow us to fly almost anywhere.”
Reliable Robotics is developing a certifiable system that enables continuous autopilot engagement through all phases of flight, including taxi, takeoff and landing with a remote pilot supervising operations. A satellite-based C2 link between the remote pilot and the aircraft is an integral component. Higher precision navigation, sophisticated flight planning capabilities and more robust flight controls better manage aircraft and environmental conditions and improve safety, reducing the occurrence of common causes of aviation accidents.