Airspace World: GUTMA identifies new ways for USSPs to share data and agree governance principles

There will soon be six drone delivery companies sharing the lower airspace above Dallas and by working together on agreements on data sharing and governance principles, within the context of a Global UTM Association (GUTMA) work programme and building on ASTM F3548-21 Standard Specification for UAS Traffic Management (UTM) UAS Service Supplier (USS) Interoperability, drone operators and UTM service supplier providers (USSPs) are developing a series of standards for data sharing, which could become the basis for understanding, the world over, how USSPs will cooperate and compete in the future.

The work was outlined today at the Airspace World event in Geneva.

Although high level regulations are in place for the implementation of U-space and UTM there is still considerable uncertainty on the granular detail of how drone operators and USSPs will share operational data between each other.

“We need to understand in some detail how each others’ systems interact  – after all, we will all depend on each other,” said Sebastian Babiarz of DroneUp and GUTMA Co-President. This is particularly important in case of a system failure. Within the Dallas initiative, industry competitors have developed a set of agreements for classifying and sharing data, agreed a set of cooperative operating principles and defined some service level agreement (SLA) principles which will support cooperation but still leave room for competition. The SLAs will also define levels of performance – but not to the level of defining separation minima between drones, which will remain an issue for each company.

“It’s important that each USSP identifies clear roles and responsibilities in a similar way,” according to Reinaldo Negron of Wing and GUTMA Co-President, to enhance communications between USSPs operating in the same airspace.

The industry initiative is being supported by the Federal Aviation Administration and by NASA.

“We need this kind of industry collaboration otherwise these things just don’t happen,” said Parimal Kopardekar, NASA Director, NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI). And it’s not only in the USA where regulators are supporting this kind of industry initiative. “We have the regulations in place but we will need to make other arrangements,” said Amanda Boekholt of Switzerland’s FOCA, Deputy Head of Strategy and Innovation, InterUSS Platform Outreach Committee. “This initiative is more than just about data sharing, it’s important governance is included, too.”

The first drone delivery operations using these new standards and agreements are due to start within the next few weeks.

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