Aerospace Industries Association Petitions FCC for Rulemaking on UAS Spectrum

On February 8, 2018, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) regarding adoption of licensing and service rules for Control and Non-Payload Communications (CNPC) links in the 5030-5091 MHz band for command and control (C2) operations to support unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones).

This Petition is noteworthy because it requests that the FCC establish rules that will permit UAS operators, for the first time, to utilize protected spectrum for UAS. The availability of this spectrum may enable longer range and more complex UAS operations. Once the Petition is placed on Public Notice, any interested party may file comments of support or opposition within 30 days.

Specifically, the Petition recommends that the Commission:

  • Adopt a licensing framework that is aligned with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight certification requirements and RTCA Minimum Operational Performance Standards (MOPS);

  • Require non-Federal users of UAS CNPC links in the 5030-5091 MHz to hold an FCC license;

  • Limit communications using the band to command and control and safety of life operations;

  • Designate a Frequency Assignment Manager that would work with both Federal assignees and non-Federal licensees of UAS CNPC links to carry out actual assignment of CNPC channels for UAS operations;

  • Revise the Commission's Part 87 rules to accommodate UAS CNPC links; and

  • Enter into a coordination agreement with Canada and Mexico regarding the operation of UAS CNPC links within range of their respective borders.

A section-by-section summary of the AIA Petition can be found here.

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