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NASA to Test Communications Tech for Air Mobility Ecosystem With PC-12 Aircraft

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NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland has acquired a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to support aeronautic research efforts, including the assessment of commercial communications technology platforms for the national airspace.

PC-12 is a turboprop aircraft that has a pressurized cabin, can operate at altitudes of up 30,000 feet at a speed of 322 miles per hour and can land on short runways, NASA said Monday.

We plan to evaluate the performance of a NASA partner prototype radio system, cellular services, and satellite technologies for critical information exchanges between aircraft and air traffic service providers during flight in an urban environment,” said Rafael Apaza, associate project manager for the Air Traffic Management eXploration project.

The PC-12 allows us to put these technologies through good, rigorous tests in optimal locations and at altitudes where new urban vehicles will likely operate,” added Apaza.

Apaza’s team will test data exchanges and transfer rates to radio ground platforms by mounting commercial antenna systems on the aircraft’s belly.