SESAR U-ELCOME consortium sets out objectives and demonstrations in Spain, Italy and France

To build on the first EU regulatory framework for UAS (Delegated Regulation 2019/945 and Implementing Regulation 2019/947) and U-space (Implementing Regulation 2021/664), the U-ELCOME project is among five new Digital Sky Demonstrators officially launched on 24 November by SESAR Joint Undertaking backed by EUR45 million CEF funding.

The U-ELCOME project intends to foster a fully scalable market uptake of U1 and U2 U-space services through a set of tests and demonstrations in various operational environments and European locations. To do so, U-ELCOME, under the coordination of the Eurocontrol Innovation Hub, will develop, test, and demonstrate early U1 and U2 U-space solutions across 15 locations distributed in Spain, Italy, and France.

Combining digital and physical infrastructure capabilities, U-ELCOME will set up, deploy, and demonstrate the following SESAR solutions up to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 8:

  • U-space U1 — foundation services: these will identify drones and operators, and inform operators about known restricted areas. With the deployment of U1, more drone operations are enabled, especially in areas where the density of manned traffic is low. The U-space foundation services include e-registration, e-identification and geoawareness.
  • U-space U2 — initial services: the main purpose of these is to support the safe management of “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS) operations and a first level of interface and connection with ATM/ATC and manned aviation. With the deployment of U2, the range of operations at low levels will increase, including some operations in controlled airspace. Drone flights will no longer be considered on a case-by-case basis, and some BVLOS operations will become routine. At least the following initial U-space services will be included: tactical geo-fencing, emergency management, strategic deconfliction, weather information, tracking, flight planning management, monitoring, traffic information, drone aeronautical information management, and a procedural interface with ATC.

The U-space system: a real interface with the ATM system

The U-ELCOME project will build on the outcomes of the previous European projects – from research, through industrialisation, to implementation; at the same time the U-ELCOME project complies with Regulation 2021/664 on a regulatory framework for U-space, and related amended Regulations 2017-373 and 923/2012. U-ELCOME relies on real U-space systems, which are in operation or will be deployed by ENAIRE, ENAV, ASLOGIC, ITG, D-Flight and Thales during the execution of the project.

The U-ELCOME demonstrations will interface the U-space set of services with existing ATM systems, and to each other. The U-space capabilities and U1 and U2 services of the pre[1]operational U-space ecosystems will be demonstrated in several live use cases in various operational environments that represent the most typical missions for both business and civil authority use such as medical and goods deliveries, Inspection flights, aerial work in urban and sub-urban environments, in controlled and uncontrolled airspace.

The project, working in close cooperation with EASA and other international and national authorities and organisations, will also contribute to the consolidation of standardisation and regulatory requirements of the proposed U-space services to further accelerate the deployment of relevant U1 and U2 services and U-space-based operations.

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