Data Link

Air-Ground Data Link:
Proof of Concept Test Report

The CoE recently conducted a preliminary, proof of concept test for an air-to- ground data link using a novel radio system. This test was developed as part of the CoE’s Data Link project, which is intended to scrutinize technologies that could provide situational awareness digitally to firefighters in areas currently lacking Internet access. For this test, the CoE utilized a pair of prototype goTenna Pro radios and temporarily installed one of the radios in a state MultiMission Aircraft. At an altitude of 15,000 feet, the prototype radio system was able to sustain a data link across a distance of 46.75 miles to a testing party on the ground. As this technology matures, additional testing of the bandwidth possible with the goTenna Pro and/or similar wireless technologies should be conducted to ensure that spatial products captured by the aircraft—such as points, lines, and polygons—can be transmitted in a timely fashion to firefighters on the ground.

The DFPC Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA) provide groundbreaking capabilities in the areas of early fire detection and incident support through their advanced sensors, onboard mission sensor operators, and near real-time link with the Colorado Wildfire Information Management System (CO-WIMS). The spatial data the MMA provide on fire size, access routes, and values at risk are already changing the face of fire management in Colorado. However, the necessity of an Internet connection to access CO-WIMS prevents many firefighters operating in areas with no cellular connection from viewing products created by the MMA. This issue was identified as a priority for improving the MMA program following the 2015 fire season and the preferred solution was identified as a technology capable of sending digital information straight from the aircraft to firefighters on the ground using a line-of-sight data link.

Completed and upcoming work includes the following: