Successful drone test flights in Austria for EU GOF 2.0 demonstration

A series of tests which took place in Austria in September mark a milestone for future development, according to a press release with latest news about the SESAR 3 JU project GOF 2.0 Integrated Urban Airspace very-large demonstration (VLD) project.

Fifteen partners from both the scientific community and the drone and aviation industry are working together in the EU project GOF 2.0 to enable safe, orderly, and efficient control of unmanned aerial systems in a manned aviation environment. Interoperability is at the forefront, enabling secure data communication between airborne and ground-based systems. This creates a “system of systems” that combines classic air traffic management and new and improved drone-specific services. The international consortium consists of: Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS), Dimetor, Airbus Urban Mobility GmbH, Aviamaps, CAFA Tech, DroneRadar, EHang, Fintraffic ANS, Frequentis, PCSS Poznańskie Centrum Superkomputerowo-Sieciowe, Polish Air Navigation Services Agency, Robots.Expert, Threod Systems, Unmanned Life, Vaisala.

The basis for an economical and scalable use of this new type of airborne mobility technology is the further integration of airport and port infrastructure, public transport, and logistics centres. In all use cases, the focus is on increasing efficiency compared to ground-based technologies and supporting a seamless transport chain between urban areas and the airports while taking into account the highest safety requirements.

The integrations between partner systems developed as part of the project is validated in various European countries together with the air traffic control authorities since April 2022. St. Georgen am Ybbsfeld Airport – not far from Amstetten, Lower Austria – was chosen for the Austrian validation. In this trial, among other things, automated parcel delivery at low-altitude and its safe interaction with air taxi flights and conventional air traffic were extensively tested as an example of a realistic use case.

The results of the GOF2.0 demonstrations underline the technical possibilities as well as the future challenges to integrate simultaneous unmanned flights into urban airspace shared with manned aviation based on the European Commission’s initiative to integrate drones into the European airspace. “GOF2 demonstrations highlight the importance of integrating U-space information directly into drone operator mission control systems,” said Jonas Stjernberg, SVP and Partner at Robots.Expert, and continued: “The biggest challenge for the industry and regulators is to ensure that U-space systems are interoperable on a European level.”

The project demanded the integration of various stakeholders’ systems and needs, leading to better understanding of how to achieve this in accordance with U-space regulations.

Two U-space service providers (DroneRadar and Aviamaps) operated in the same area at the same time, connected to one CISP/FIMS (Frequentis SmartSIS) together with integrated GCS software from CAFA Tech, PCSS Poznańskie Centrum Superkomputerowo-Sieciowe, Threod Systems-UAS, Unmanned Life) supervised and coordinated by and EANS. They demonstrated they can:

– apply for flights in fully digitalised manner
– make a full strategic deconfliction by splitting missions into smaller pieces
– support Multi Stakeholder Approval within predefines jurisdiction
– decide, whenever automatic or manual approval is needed and when
– fly in a common airspace with full situational awareness using electronic conspicuity
– that systems can communicate with each other in such a way that people know what is going on, what will happen and have this long-awaited red button to pause or stop the entire process
– optimise access to the airspace by dividing missions into smaller pieces
– use two-way, non-verbal communication between ALL connected systems in both strategic and tactical phases
– finally shorten the communication time so that safety critical messages reach the interested parties almost in real time.

A detailed report on the GOF2 report is due to be published soon.

(Image: GOF Amstetten test team, Markus Haslinger)

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