AMU-LED lists outstanding challenges for European urban air mobility U-space conops planners

According to a Linkedin blog posted by the AMU-LED consortium on 20 July 2021 “a lot of questions remain open” following the publication in March this year of the consortium’s urban air mobility concept of operations (

These include: “what should be the size of the safety buffers between layers and the access requirements for each of them (e.g. CNS, DAA, etc.); who should manage air-taxi operations in controlled and uncontrolled airspace and whether tactical deconfliction services should be advisory (warnings) or flight commands provided by humans (ANSP-like) or automated (USSP-like); or whether Vertiport Operators should provide just resources availability information or be actively involved in the management of the dynamic corridors and provision of clearances. All these and other questions are being discussed with other Very Large Demonstration projects in the framework of the SJU U-Space ConOps Coordination Cell which will conclude with the publication of the fourth version of the European U-Space ConOps.”

AMU-LED’s Concept of Operations (ConOps) targets a transitional mid-term (2025-2030), when the first piloted air-taxis will start operating in cities within U-space airspaces with most U1-U2 services deployed.

“AMU-LED assumes that current U-space responsibilities and services will have to be extended to cope with the particularities of the missions and business cases that are specific to UAM such as air-taxi and cargo transport and the main challenges of urban environments,” says the consortium. “In this line, the ConOps discusses how some actors like U-space Service Providers (USSPs), Common Information Service Providers (CISPs) or Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) will have to take on a series of new and extended (or enhanced) U-space services and responsibilities to be able to manage this higher performing and higher risk air-taxi operations.

“Air-taxis and big-cargo eVTOLS, referred to as High Performance Vehicles (HPVs) in AMU-LED’s ConOps, will have to coexist with other smaller UAVs or Standard Performance Vehicles (SPVs) with different flight performances and safety implications and therefore different CNS and DAA requirements. While air-taxis will most likely be equipped with GNSS integrity monitoring receiver, ADS-B or ACAS-Xu and robust 4G/5G or satellite communication datalinks, SPVs will be much more restricted in terms of equipment affordability.

“Similarly, during this transitional period, manned traffic will probably not be fully conspicuous yet (most VFR traffic lacks transponders today) and there won’t be a full integration between UTM and ATM either in terms of traffic services for tactical deconfliction. On top of that, altitude references will most likely be still different (geometric vs barometric).

“In order to safely cope with this heterogeneous traffic, AMU-LED proposes to temporarily segregate HPVs (air-taxis and big cargo) from both manned aviation and SPVs (small UAS). Expanding on the concept proposed by the FAA (link) and Australia (link), and suggested also by EASA (link), of using corridors to confine air-taxi operations, AMU-LED is opting for a more flexible solution by reserving a whole layer of airspace for air-taxis to fly more efficient routes. This is referred to as the “High Performance Layer” (HPL) and contained within the upper limits of the Very Low Level (VLL), where manned operations are generally restricted, in order to avoid redesigning the existing airspace. In this way, air taxis will temporarily fly above small drones and below manned traffic in a segregated manner.

“Manned aviation aircraft could also enter this layer provided that they comply with the access rules, follow the procedures and make use of the required U-space services. Otherwise, a dynamic airspace reconfiguration should be requested through ATC to temporarily restrict HPV (and SPV) operations. This airspace structure doesn’t prevent the promulgation of UAM corridors connecting cities above VLL for larger taxis with higher cruise height, speed and range than those expected for intra-city operations. Access to vertiports through the Standard Performance Layer will be protected by the use of dynamic corridors, restricting SPV operations just when HPV requires so as not to hold unnecessary airspace. The activation of such corridors will be subordinated to the ANSP in case of U-space within controlled airspace (e.g. airport CTR).”

The concept also outlines the roles of all actors, including “competent authorities”, whose roles will be different from the Common Information Service, U-space service providers, supplemental data service providers and vertiport operators.

In the AMU-LED version of urban UTM “They provide information on aeronautical and non-aeronautical no-fly zones, publish VLL hazards and review post-flight reports. Also, in addition to developing law enforcement methods related to illegal drone activity, they support the definition of operating procedures and rules; explore applications of U-space to urban needs and proposes methods to ensure privacy of citizens. Finally, they certify and oversee the USSPs and the CIS provider(s) under their responsibility, as well as establish, maintain and make available the registration system for certified USSPs and CIS provider(s).

“In the mid-term, they will be responsible for establishing the mechanisms to coordinate the given U-space volumes tailored for HPV operations as explained in Section 4 below, including airspace restriction for other UAS within that U-space airspace and determining those HPV tailored services to be provided in such U-space volumes in urban environments. In addition, USSPs managing HPV traffic will also be under their responsibility, so that Competent Authorities will be responsible for their certification and oversight, as well as, carrying out the necessary audits, assessments, investigations and inspections as established in their oversight programme.

Finally, and bearing in mind that air-taxis will be carrying people on-board, the Competent Authority will have to certify HPV Operators, which will need to hold an HPV tailored Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and might be required to hold an HPV tailored operation license equivalent to those for airline business. Likewise, the Competent Authority will have to carry out the audits, assessments, investigations and inspections as established in the AOC programme, and shall ensure the HPV Operators fulfil an adequate maintenance programme of their vehicles, providing advisory and requirements as needed to ensure safety of their operations. Likewise, they will also set the requirements and Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) for Vertiports certification, which will need to be fulfilled by the vertiport operators. D2.2.010 HIGH LEVEL CONOPS – INITIAL 31 Authorities will also need to define the required licenses for PICs conducting the flights for each operational context (e.g. VFR, IFR and night operations). Different types of licenses also need to be tailored to the intended type of transport, e.g. number of passengers carried and MTOM (maximum take-off mass) of the vehicle. Furthermore they need to develop and implement adequate training courses and flight exam procedures for UAM passenger transport licenses.”

AMU-LED consortium members comprise: everis, everis Aerospace, Defense and Security, Royal NLR, Boeing Research & Technology-Europe, Jeppesen, Fundación Instituto Tecnológico de Galicia (ITG), ENAIRE, TECNALIA, Ineco,  ANRA Technologies, Cranfield University, CATEC, Airbus UTM, EHang, AirHub, Space53, Altitude Angel


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