European U-space demonstrator projects focus on next steps

In the third webinar hosted by SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) at the end of April, speakers highlighted the next steps for the safe integration of drones.

A participant in several different U-space projects, Frequentis reported it is already making use of the findings in other company projects, both research and commercial. Senior Architect Thomas Lutz said that by completing close to 20 projects since 2017, SJU had provided the push needed to accelerate these developments.

In the case of Unifly, participation in the research projects highlighted several issues. Chief Marketing Officer Ellen Malfliet said: “There is a clear need for the drone services market as a whole to have a secure connection to an authority and to be able to plan and manage drones in one place.” Unifly is developing the technology to deliver this and U-space demonstrations reveal potential market opportunities. “We also need standards that everybody agrees to and adheres to, to ensure we have one single way of working that is approved by at least all the member states and preferably across the oceans as well,” she added.

In the Netherlands, the first version of U-space is now available according to Henk Hesselink from the Dutch research establishment NLR. Research is continuing into how it can be used, how coordination activity is managed, how to establish flight priorities, and the possibilities for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). “We need to think about how to make sure manned aviation is aware of what drones are doing. U-space services offers a good solution for this. People need to be aware of each other’s activities. The good thing about U-space is you can connect to just one of the services, like the surveillance service, and get information about the traffic without the need for the full deployment.”

Daniel Garcia-Monteavaro Vizcaino, Enaire’s Drone Business Chief, reiterated the importance of conspicuity, but added: “Conspicuity is very difficult, especially in low level airspace where you don’t have surveillance. This needs to be developed, but it is a hard topic.” The DOMUS project highlighted the importance of a single “Ecosystem Manager” combined with a federated structure to provide the necessary de-confliction services. This interface between air traffic management and unmanned traffic management is central to tactical coordination.

A lot of work still needs to be done according to Ludovic Legros, U-space Programme Manager. “On the one hand we are happy to see all the work that has been done in short space of time and we expect to release the results in a brochure with data from the project reports by this Summer. At the same time, there is still a lot to do. That is why the material that has been developed in these projects, including technical specifications, will be made available to disseminate more widely.”

To listen to the webinars visit:

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