The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published a ‘Proposal for a Roadmap on Higher Airspace Operations (HAO)’ exploring the challenges of future operations in the airspace above FL550.
The Roadmap recommends a number of progressive actions, focusing initially – for the next 2 to 3 years – on studies, tests and demonstrators, supported for instance by the concept of regulatory sandboxes in order to allow the first operations to take place while learning from these to optimally design the future regulatory framework.
As HAO may pose safety, security and environmental risks, EASA created a Task Force composed of European Member States, the European Defence Agency (EDA) and Eurocontrol. This Roadmap summarises the work undertaken by the task force team in the last two years to ensure a uniform approach to safety, security and sustainability of air transport in the EU also in this domain.
The document was delivered to the European Commission on March 10, 2023. It recommends a number of progressive actions, focussing initially on studies, tests and demonstrators, supported by the concept of regulatory sandboxes to allow the first higher airspace operations (not yet existing at large scale in Europe) while learning from these to optimally design the future regulatory framework.
HAO operations – which do not yet exist at large scale in Europe – can be initially defined as ‘air transport operations carried out by various types of aircraft or vehicle systems in the volume of the airspace above altitudes where the majority of air services are provided today (i.e. above FL 550)’ and may pose safety, security and environmental risks that will need to be addressed, in order to ensure a uniform approach to safety, security and sustainability of air transport in the EU.
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