The European Commission introduced the U-space initiative to establish an efficient framework for all individuals and businesses to operate drones at lower levels.
U-space is a set of new services relying on a high level of digitalisation and automation of functions and specific procedures designed to support safe, efficient and secure access to airspace for large numbers of drones.
As such, U-space is an enabling framework designed to facilitate any kind of routine mission, in all classes of airspace and all types of environment - even the most congested - while addressing an appropriate interface with manned aviation and air traffic control.
In support of this initiative, in 2017 the SESAR Joint Undertaking drafted the U-space blueprint, a vision of how to make U-space operationally possible.
The blueprint proposes the implementation of 4 sets of services to support the EU aviation strategy and regulatory framework on drones:
U1: U-space foundation services covering e-registration, e-identification and geofencing.
U2: U-space initial services for drone operations management, including flight planning, flight approval, tracking, and interfacing with conventional air traffic control.
U3: U-space advanced services supporting more complex operations in dense areas such as assistance for conflict detection and automated detect and avoid functionalities.
U4: U-space full services, offering very high levels of automation, connectivity and digitalisation for both the drone and the U-space system. Unifly is actively participates in a number of European sibling projects established within the SESAR context.
As the only UTM provider, Unifly is able to offer a unique perspective and is a contributing partner in CLASS, CORUS, PODIUM, SECOPS and SKYOPENER. More details on these projects can be found below.
The CORUS (Concept of Operation for EuRopean UTM Systems) project gathers experts from aviation (manned and drone), research and academia to develop a harmonized approach for the integration of drones into Very Low Level (VLL) airspace.
Use real-world examples to formulate best practices and to prove safe drone operations under all circumstances, PODIUM will perform four complementary large-scale demonstrations – with over 185 drone test flights and many more opportunity flights - at Odense in Denmark, Bretigny and Toulouse in France, and Eelde in the Netherlands.
SECOPS' objective is an integrated security concept for drone operations, addressing resistance of drones against unlawful interference, protection of third parties and integration of geo-fencing technology; focussing on technological options (navigation, surveillance, in-flight updates, etc.) for both airborne and ground elements, considering legal, regulatory and social aspects. It aims to push drone technology forward by ensuring that security risks in the Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) concept are mitigated to an acceptable level.