Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are going to need spectrum for many different functions. Some of these functions will be critical for their safe use, so there is a need for adequately protected spectrum to ensure the safe operation of all aircraft in international and national airspaces.
Fortunately for UAS advocates, the Radio Regulations already contain suitable allocations for the Aviation Mobile (Route) and Aviation Mobile Satellite (Route) services at 960 – 1164 MHz and 5030 – 5091 MHz bands respectively.
But as we explain in our research note Identification of protected aviation spectrum for unmanned aircraft systems, putting that spectrum to use requires the development of standards.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is busily filling in the standards gap at the global level but it only thinks it will finish the work by November 2026. Meanwhile, national and regional standards bodies and regulators are pressing ahead with their own rules, most commonly based on access to the 5030 – 5091 MHz band.
Spectrum allocated for satellite services and/or mobile broadband are also being considered for UAS; the picture for these bands is more complicated and is explained in a separate research note available here.
Both notes are contained in our new dossier on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which is available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers here.