CORUS U-space research project wins SESAR Digital Sky Award for its contribution to safe and secure integration of drones

The European public-private partnership SESAR Joint Undertaking has announced the results of the Digital Sky Awards, celebrating the best of H2020 research and innovation in air traffic management. The U-space award, recognising projects that delivered tangible solutions for the safe, efficient and secure integration of drones into European airspace, facilitating the overall growth of the European drone services market went to the SESAR Concept of Operations for European UTM Systems (CORUS) project.

CORUS has developed a concept of operations for drones in very low-level airspace, laying the groundwork for the implementation of U-space, and the safe and secure integration of drones.

Gathering experts from aviation, research and academia, guided by a 21-member stakeholder advisory board, the CORUS consortium developed a Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for U-space. It proposes an initial architecture for this airspace with a detailed definition of the
airspace types to be used for very low-level drone operations and the services in them, so that operations are safe and efficient.
It balances the needs of the drone sector with those of society as a whole.

The activity of the CORUS project centred around three workshops held in January and June 2018 and April 2019, each attended by 100 stakeholders of widely varying backgrounds. Each workshop discussed a new iteration of the CONOPS, allowing the project to refine and validate them, leading to a U-space concept of operations (edition 3), providing the latest baseline for the U-space services.

Broad acceptance of the CORUS CONOPS has been essential to its success, with interested parties invited to join the “U-space Community Network” (UCN) that grew to over 500 members during the course of the project. These UCN members received information about the progress of the project, were invited to attend the workshops, and provided input on a number of questions to guide the project’s work. Well over 1 000 written comments were received that informed the drafting of the CONOPS. CORUS also communicated and cooperated with more than 70 organisations involved in other related projects looking at specific drone and U-space technologies.

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