Satellite communications can deliver flight control communications to RPAS under certain certification and safety-related conditions and approvals.  Satellite communications theoretically (depending on satellite constellation coverage) can be used anywhere around the globe for both Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) but especially for Beyond VLOS (BVLOS) operations.

Typically RPAS Operators do not own the satellite constellation but receive communications services of a specified Quality of Service (QoS) under contract.  Depending on the regulatory and certification requirements, satellite communications for RPAS flight control require regulatory approval.

There have been concerns about latency (transmission and reception delays from signal start to end), since satellite communications pass not only between satellites in the constellation but also through terrestrial communications server farms.   It appears that specific measures can be taken (such a ‘virtual private channels’) to provide lower latency, at a cost. Whether any given QoS (including latency) is acceptable to the regulator will depend on the scenario, the safety case and risk mitigation.

Further Reading

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