Aerospace and defence products supplier Collins Aerospace System and Nasa have reached the last stage of a project to enable safe operation of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS).

Co-funded by Collins Aerospace, the nine-year project is expected to be completed in September.

As part of the programme, the company has helped to develop a command non-payload Control (CNPC) data link waveform.

This has supported the creation of the initial certification standards for UAS command and control in the NAS.

Named as CNPC-5000, the C-Band prototype CNPC data link radio set the standard in recent testing and will continue to prove vital in future research and test flights for other programmes.

Collins Aerospace Integrated Solutions vice-president and general manager Heather Robertson said: “CNPC is critical to maintaining positive control of UAS in complex operations within national airspace such as flights beyond visual line-of-sight or above 500ft. We’ve already applied our CNPC waveform to the FAA’s Pathfinder programme with BNSF Railway.

“Our CNPC-5000 data links provide the reliable, safe and secure connection needed to maintain control of unmanned aircraft at all times while operating in the complex environment of controlled airspace.”

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The CNPC-5000 radio will be implemented in flights with General Atomics’ SkyGuardian in support of Nasa’s System Integration Operationalization (SIO) programme.

Collins Aerospace continues to invest in technologies that support the integration of UAS into the NAS.

The CNPC-5000 device has not been authorised, which restricts its sale or lease.

Last month, Collins Aerospace Systems secured a $320m contract to support Nasa’s Orion spacecraft fleet.