SESAR publishes enhanced overview of U-Space concept of operations

Project members of the CORUS (Concept of Operation for EuRopean UTM Systems) project announced on September 30 the finalized version of the first Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for UTM in very low level airspace in Europe. The CORUS “Enhanced Overview” will be made public imminently.

The Concept of Operations for U-space enables a wide range of UAS uses, accommodating the level of traffic today and in that expected in the future, taking on board the best ideas from around the world and accepted by a wide range of stakeholders.

Within the enhanced version, airspace design comprises three levels of complexity.


  • No conflict resolution
  • Enables VLOS
  • Pilot remains responsible to remain well clear


  • Approved flight plan required
  • Conflict resolution before take off
  • Usually position reporting required, information given to pilot during flight, conformance and geo-awareness required, warnings and traffic information is required
  • Y airspace may not have these if primary goal is to manage access to national parks, for example


  • Conflict resolution before flight and in flight
  • Requires tracking
  • Separation minima in function of system perfomance
  • Za – ATC controlled airspace (e.g airport); U-space provides situational awareness to ATC, communication tools, standard ways of working
  • Zu – U-space (software) provides conflict resolution during flight, from the ground


Minimum description Conforming Collaborating Coordinating
Example area Non restricted UAS airspace Surrounding controlled airspace Aerodrome traffic zone (ATZ)
Operational emphasis Free flight UTM trajectory based operations U-Space capacity management
Typical operating height Below 400-500ft Specific agreement with regional authorities Above 0ft of ATZ or above VLL


The CONOPS document adopts the Methodology for the U-Space Safety Assessment (MEDUSA) risk approach has been adopted. In relation with the risk determination, three areas are proposed to assess the mitigation level provided by U-space services:

  • Level of mitigation of air risk (unmanned-manned / unmanned-unmanned)
  • Level of mitigation of ground risk (prevent fatalities on the ground and damage to critical infrastructure), including aviation infrastructures like Control towers, Ground Navaids, Comm antenna mast, etc.
  • Level of mitigation of incursion into “no-fly zones” (airspace infringement).

The new concept was launched at the two-day U-space ConOps and Research Dissemination Conference hosted by Eurocontrol. According to an agency press release: “Partners concluded with consensus that SESAR JU U-space Exploratory Research and Demonstration projects, including the Eurocontrol-led CORUS project, are on track to deliver, already providing useful validation exercise recommendations for the deployment initiatives proposed and already in progress across Europe.

“During their welcoming speeches, Koen De Vos (European Commission DG MOVE Policy Officer), Philippe Merlo (EUROCONTROL Director European Civil Military Aviation) and Florian Guillermet (SESAR JU Executive Director) emphasised their full commitment and engagement in the development of U-space services, which they see as the key enabler of safe and efficient drone operations across EU airspace, and a central driver of associated economic growth.

“The first day of the conference featured a presentation of the U-space ConOps developed by the CORUS project, a Eurocontrol led project that is part of the SESAR H2020 programme, and which aims to adopt a harmonised approach to integrating drones into very low level airspace in a safe and socially acceptable way. The topics covered included airspace structure, conflict resolution, the U-space services required for safe and efficient drone operations, the safety approach, and metrics for the social acceptability of drone use. Linked to the proposed U-space ConOps, a reference high-level U-space Services Architecture was described. Conference participants also discussed further R&D with the aim of defining the U-space set of Full Services required for the safe integration of manned and unmanned aviation, especially in urban airspace and in the vicinity of airports.

“During the second day, three sessions tackled the key questions of safety, interoperability and maturity, each animated by six projects from the SESAR Joint Undertaking’s U-space Exploratory Research and Demonstration activities. Each project presented the results of their flight trials and tests, then engaged the audience in a lively question and answer session. The projects were also showcased in a dedicated exhibition outside the conference hall .

“The main conclusions of the workshop were unanimous consensus that solid progress is being made by CORUS and SESAR JU U-space Exploratory Research and Demonstration projects; they are achieving good outcomes and providing useful validation exercise recommendations for the deployment initiatives proposed and already in progress across Europe.”

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