Two years on, from 2017 until end of 2019, SESAR JU and its partners have completed 19 research and demonstration projects, addressing everything from the concept of operations for drone operations, critical communications, surveillance and tracking, and information management to aircraft systems, ground-based technologies, cyber-resilience and geo-fencing.
The results of these projects are summarised in a report entitled Supporting Safe and Secure Drone Operations in Europe. More details are due to be released in a comprehensive report due for publication in the second half of 2020.
The report describes the work undertaken by 125 entities, including 25 European airports, 25 air navigation service providers, 11 universities, more than 65 start-ups and businesses, as well as 800 experts. The projects were conducted in close coordination with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), tasked by the Commission with drafting rules to govern the safe integration of drones into manned airspace. SESAR Joint Undertaking also ensured close cooperation with aviation industry standards-developing body Eurocae, and wider standardisation work by ICAO. ICAO is due to introduce Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) for drones operating in manned airspace in 2023.
The project findings take Europe several steps closer to implementing a safe, initial drone operating environment, and provide the necessary building blocks for more advanced U-space services leading to full integration with manned aviation. Among conclusions, the report finds whilst a lot has been achieved in the past two years, more work is needed on developing and validating drone capabilities and U-space services to ensure safe and secure drone operations. It also says the scope of the U-space projects needs to be widened to include areas such as urban air mobility operations, interoperability with air traffic management, and higher levels of automation. SESAR JU plans to continue to participate in and support further developments as part of a focussed and motivated pan-European team that will create a safe and productive operating environment for manned and unmanned aircraft alike.
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