Two mornings last week, RTCA and EUROCAE held a Global Aviation Summit to discuss how the industry can best prepare for the future global environment as technology moves towards more efficient and effective use of spectrum. The Summit featured panelists from AIA, Airbus, ALPA, American Airlines, ASRI, Boeing, CEPT, Dassault Aviation, EASA, ENRI, Eurocontrol, European Commission, FAA, Flyvercity, Honeywell, ICAO, ITU, MITRE, NASA, Reliable Robotics, T-Systems, and uAvionix. More than 400 attendees had the opportunity to listen to and participate in the following eight sessions, summarized here:
• Lessons Learned and Moving Forward: With the C-band 5G roll out and conflicting messages reported in the press, there was public confusion about the level of risk. The intersection of diverse industries in the spectrum domain, with vastly different approaches to operations, has resulted in more interaction across formerly unrelated industries. Panelists discussed aviation and C-band co-existence, tactical lessons learned, spectrum sharing and allocation, the need to harmonize compliance requirements, building stakeholder coalitions, taking a look at who is operating next to each other, the work and cost that will go into solving issues and radio altimeter considerations.
• Situational Awareness in a Changing Regulatory Environment: Aviation Spectrum is regulated by both Aviation and Telecommunication authorities. This session brought together both sides to discuss spectrum regulations as they exist in the United States, in Europe, and in a global context. Recent developments are inspiring innovation in the regulatory process, and the speakers discussed what spectrum stakeholders can expect in the future. Panelists delved into the regulatory framework, new spectrum entrants, challenges of having long lifecycles for aviation and short cycles for telecom, interference issues, harmonizing technical regulations, effective spectrum management, and fostering communication with other industries.
• Shortening Avionics Lifecycle through Adaptation: Changes in technology and development tools have enabled much shorter lifecycles, even for avionics providing safety critical functionality. New aircraft use cases, such as UAS and AAM, are taking advantage of these capabilities with the goal of bringing lifecycles down to less than five years. Panelists discussed the technologies making this possible, the challenges to this paradigm shift, interoperability and the impact on safety and regulatory requirements.
• Future Spectrum Needs and Applications: As new entrants push the boundaries in existing industries, there is a greater demand for spectrum to enable operations. Existing spectrum users need to make room to expand bandwidth to allow for innovation. Regulators around the world will continue to make adjustments to allocations in spectrum bands. Panelists discussed vertiports and other emerging needs and entrants, educating on processes and building dialog and professional relationships.
• How Standards can Evolve to Meet Future Needs: Panelists discussed how RTCA and EUROCAE can be responsive to the needs of FAA, EASA and other aviation regulatory entities. Panelists discussed improvements and developments to be considered in the structure and content of the documents to make the use of spectrum more robust by the aviation community, the adjacent band environment and weather radar specs.
• Working Together on Spectrum/What’s Next?: Having identified the current and future environment aviation is facing in utilizing spectrum for safety critical functions, this session explored how we can work together to provide the best path forward as panelists shared their vision for future spectrum planning. Panelists examined actions to take to others outside our industry, prediction capabilities or “canary in the coal mine” indicators, radio altimeter challenges and time and cost considerations.
If you missed the Summit, it will be posted to RTCA’s YouTube channel in late January. Slides from the presentations will also be available. To learn background on spectrum – what it is and how it’s allocated and regulated – watch this 26-minute conversation between Andrew Roy of Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc and Edward Hahn of the Air Line Pilots Association.