The SESAR Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) has launched a call for proposals for studies, including demonstrations, on drone traffic management in Europe. The call is a further step towards the European Commission’s U-space vision for ensuring safe and secure access to airspace for drones.
U-space is an enabling framework designed to facilitate any kind of routine mission, in all classes of airspace and all types of environment – even the most congested – while addressing an appropriate interface with manned aviation and air traffic control. When fully deployed, a wide range of drone missions that are currently being restricted will be possible thanks to a sustainable and robust European ecosystem that is globally interoperable.
The overall objective of the call is to comprehensively prepare and de-risk a rapid deployment of U-space initial services (U2) as outlined in the U-space Blueprint. U2 provides the initial set of key services building on the foundation services (U1) by adding game-changing improvements enabling initial beyond visual line-of-sight operations (BVLOS) in rural, urban and sub-urban environments and facilitating the processes for authorisations for some drone operations.
According to the joint undertaking: “The Actions will provide, through the studies conducted, the basis for initiating a wide scale roll-out of U-space U2 services in Europe in a safe and harmonized fashion. The results will make a significant contribution to the impacts of:
• Boosting EU collaboration and generating confidence from investors, innovators and regulators;
• Significantly reducing the business risks for key U-space investors;
• Putting the EU at the forefront of global standards setting in the domain;
• Raising awareness regarding SESAR activities related to U-space and showing tangible progress on technology and services with an objective to integrate results at EU level and in the context of the wider SJU work programme;
• Showing that drone operations are envisaged in a safe and secure framework to reduce/mitigate the risks linked to public acceptance;
• Confirming the full-scale deployment readiness at EU level for an interoperable, harmonised and standardised deployment of U2 services across Europe;
• Significantly contributing to the EU regulatory process for drones placed under the aegis of EASA.”
The SJU expects to co-finance between five and 10 proposals leading to the establishment of between five and 10 sites undertaking pilot activities located in five different EU Member States (exact number, up to a maximum of five member States, will depend on the applications received and the results of the evaluation). Each site will support one or more U-space operator configuration and demonstrations, where pilot activities will include the demonstration of U-space U2 urban services. The demonstration of U-space urban services may connect to sub-urban and rural services with either two or more U-space service providers providing the drone traffic management service in a shared airspace or Urban U-space, and a framework for urban traffic management of drones. The activities to be undertaken as a result of this call are further developed in the document.
With a call budget of EUR 9,500,000 within the framework of the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the SESAR JU intends to co-finance between 5 and 10 demonstration sites across different EU Member States.
For more information about the call, visit the SESAR Procurement page