The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)’s recently published draft opinion on the future of U-space in Europe. The viewpoint embodies a foundational principle of the aviation industry: the sky is a shared resource that, when overseen safely and fairly, promises profound benefit to all. The EASA framework offers a path for Europe’s aviation infrastructure to leverage new technologies and make air transport smarter, safer, and universally accessible.
Drone delivery company Wing has published a perspective on the draft opinion and looks for opportunities to work with the European Commission and Member States to continue refining the draft – including opportunities to enhance automation and improve interoperability among U-space stakeholders. Wing believes the proposal itself represents a significant step for the advancement of unmanned aircraft systems.
In an article published on the Wing website, the company underlines its support for EASA’s efforts to enable a new, complementary traffic management ecosystem that works with the current ATM framework to support diverse unmanned aircraft. According to the article:
Open and competitive marketplace
The volume and diversity of drone operations to come would put tremendous strain on the current air traffic management system. There will be more aircraft, flying in more places, on-demand, with more unique form factors, and types of missions than ever seen before.
To support this scale, EASA acknowledges the value of an open and competitive marketplace. An ecosystem of multiple and diverse USSPs will develop innovative services that meet the needs of diverse UAS operators and enable future applications for unmanned aviation.
Collaborative U-space ecosystem
A network of U-space service providers (USSPs) that offer highly automated services like automated flight authorizations, remote identification compliance and strategic deconfliction to help support diverse drone operators.
A framework for interoperability to enable USSPs to share information digitally in real time for purposes including deconfliction and remote identification.
Oversight from regulators to ensure USSP compliance with performance-based rules. For example, Wing’s OpenSky will be just one of the many applications that will exist to enable drone operators to safely navigate the sky. While each USSP will rest on the foundational principles of operation and safety set by regulators, future air traffic management solutions will be developed and optimized for the breadth of operations that unmanned aviation brings.
This approach also shifts the cost of infrastructure to industry and promotes common standards for operations on a global scale.
Modernising the European sky
The opinion published last month is a practical step toward regulations that will allow the industry to grow in a safe, responsible way today, and lay the groundwork for supporting the volume and scale that is to come.
Like the FAA’s UTM Concept of Operations, Wing believes that EASA’s support for conflict detection through the flight authorisation service recognizes the ability of USSPs and the U-space ecosystem to enable safe operations today. By taking this pragmatic approach, this opinion lays the foundation for USSPs, like OpenSky, to begin integrating UAS in the European airspace while providing a path for innovation in U-space and drone operations in the future.
Wing believes the EASA framework is guided by the right foundational beliefs, and supports the outlined approach to airspace regulation, and look forward to working with regulators, lawmakers and member state representatives to refine both this initial framework in the coming months and the more detailed rules to come in the years ahead.
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