Proving Operations of Drones with Initial UTM Management

PODIUMDrones have many possible uses. They have the potential bring enormous added value to our daily lives in many areas, such as agriculture, the media, maintenance, deliveries, surveillance and inspection. However they are small and difficult to detect.

Left unmanaged, the increasing drone traffic can easily pose a threat to bystanders and manned aviation. PODIUM is a SESAR Horizon 2020 project supporting U-space, the European vision for the safe, secure and efficient handling of drone traffic and a key enabler for the growing drone market to generate economic and societal benefits.


PODIUM stands for Proving Operations of Drones with Initial UTM. PODIUM aims to:

  • Demonstrate U-space services, procedures and technologies at four operational sites at Odense in Denmark, Bretigny and Toulouse in France, and Groningen Airport Eelde in the Netherlands throughout 2018 and 2019
  • Provide agreed conclusions on the maturity of U-space services and technologies – backed up by evidence on flight efficiency, safety, security and human performance metrics etc. – when used in a defined set of operational scenarios and environments
  • Provide recommendations on future deployment and for regulations and standards
Drafted by the SESAR Joint Undertaking, the U-space blueprint foresees a progressive deployment of U-space linked to four blocks of services and technologies: foundation services (U1), initial services (U2), advanced services (U3) and full services (U4). The PODIUM project will demonstrate the service levels U1, U2 and some limited U3 services, with the aim to validate its unmanned traffic management solution to technology readiness level (TRL) 7 (corresponding to system prototype demonstration in operational environment).

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. Unmanned traffic management solutions will be demonstrated for visual line of sight (VLOS) and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights. The scope covers very low level operations in rural and urban areas, in the vicinity of airports, in uncontrolled and controlled airspace, and in mixed environments with manned aviation.

The project will highlight the important role of unmanned traffic management in providing a mutual traffic situational awareness for the involved local actors – including air traffic management (ATM) - as a means to facilitate their day to day drone management. PODIUM will contribute to de-risking the operational and industrial deployment of drone traffic by demonstrating a comprehensive web based unmanned traffic management system, using tracking systems based on GNSS over 1090 MHz, UNB L-Band and GSM networks.

Key aspect in the project is the use of software to manage the drone traffic. Mutual situational awareness means drones are aware of other air traffic around them, as well as the other way around: local air traffic as well as air traffic controllers know where the drones are.
Under the leadership of EUROCONTROL, a comprehensive project organisation has been set up to realise the project, comprising:
  • The main beneficiaries: EUROCONTROL (lead), Airbus, DSNA, DELAIR, Drones Paris Region, Integra Aerial Services, Naviair, NLR, Orange, and Unifly.
  • Third-parties including many small and medium enterprises working in the drone business: Hionos, Drones-Center, Civic Drone, Skydrone Innovations, Green Communication SAS, Luceor, Targetdrone, Pydesign, Azur Drones, Parrot Drones, CDSI, Synovia, Drone Hive, Cerbair, Aeromapper; LVNL, RPAS Services, E-Producties, Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra), Dutch Drone Company; Centre of Odense, University of Southern Denmark (SDU).
  • Stakeholder Advisory Board with varied membership: IATA, ECA, Belgian Police, EUROCAE, CAA DK, DSAC, DSAE, Conseil pour les drones civils, Fédération Professionnelle des Drones Civils, DFS, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment , CAA-NL, LVNL, ENAV
Preparatory work and flight trials will be performed throughout 2018 and 2019, leading to the issue of a final report with conclusions and recommendations on deployment in late 2019.

This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 783230