“By 2025 only Italy will have deployed SESAR U-Space foundation services”

Special report

European commercial drone operators planning to extend their businesses into beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and other more complex operations will have to wait awhile. According to the U-space development plans underway among European air navigation service providers (ANSPs), listed on the ATM MasterPlan portal (https://www.atmmasterplan.eu/depl/u-space) only Italy will have deployed the full range of U1 foundation services (see box below) by 2020 – and even by 2025 Italy will be the only country in Europe to have these services in place, according to current deploymemt plans.

Under the plan for U-space maturity developed by the SESAR JU (https://www.sesarju.eu/sites/default/files/documents/reports/U-space%20Blueprint%20brochure%20final.PDF) U1 services of e-registration, e-identification and geofencing will be technically available by the end of 2019. But according to the ATM Masterplan only one country will have deployed these services six years later.

The slightly better news is that some elements of these services are advancing rapidly. Drone operator on-line registration will be live in Ireland, France, Italy, Greece, Estonia and Finland by 2020 and e-identification will be in place in France, Italy and Hungary in 2019.

The challenges to implementing U-Space area to be greater than originally envisaged.  Following the November 2019 meeting of the U Space demonstrator Support Cell, the Amsterdam High Level Conference declaration and consultation meetings with the Member States the following challenges have been identified for developing priority actions:

  • Define more guidance and training material on specific operations risk assessment (SORA)
  • Define common shared repository to store and disseminate best practice
  • Define common terminology
  • Define common U-space architecture including service performance levels, processes, required standards, APIs, etc..
  • Inventorise existing U-space business models
  • Create a template for members to report outcome of their demonstrations and make it available on the U-space web portal
  • Create a list of known and planned U-space implementations/demonstrations

A second Support Cell meeting is planned for 1 February in Brussels at the Eurocontrol headquarters to help find ways to address some of these issues. These will include discussions around whether sufficient progress can be made under the current standards and rules or whether new rules will be needed.

(Image: Deployment of U-Space foundation services in Europe in 2025; green represents completed – source ATM Masterplan portal)



U-Space technology levels


U1 (2019)


Electronic chip

Drone operator online registration

Drone online registration

Registration enforcement

Registration Authority


Drone Identification

E-identification enforcement

Identification Authority

Pre-tactical geo-fencing

Geo-limitation database

Drone operator authentication and authorisation


U2 (2021)

Tactical geo-fencing

Live airspace data feed

Area infringement notification

Flight planning management

Automated FPL validation

Operations digital authorization

Digital NOTAM

Weather information

Low-altitude wind forecast

Actual low-altitude wind info

weather info collection

Weather hazard alerts


Radio Positioning infrastructure

Real-time tracking

Tracking data recording


Air situation monitoring

Flight non-conformance detection

Area infringement detection

Traffic info multicast

Alert/Report line

Drone aeronautical information management

UTM-relevant static aeronautical data

UTM-relevant dynamic aeronautical data

Procedural interface with ATC

ATC/UAS coordination procedures

Flight notification procedures

Emergency and contingency procedures

Emergency management

Emergency alert line

Emergency assistance information

Strategic de-confliction

Strategic de-confliction


U3 (2025)

Dynamic geo-fencing

Dynamic geo-fencing

Collaborative Interface with ATC

Global air situation monitoring

ATC alert notification

Tactical de-confliction

Tactical de-confliction

Dynamic capacity management

Airspace capacity monitoring

UAS traffic complexity assessment

Demand/capacity imbalance detection

UTM measures implementation


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