Australia publishes blueprint for flight information system-based national UTM system

Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has published a new report Emerging Aviation Technologies report (https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/drones/files/drone-discussion-paper.pdf) in which it outlines its concept for developing a UTM system based around a centralised Government flight information system (FIMS).

This will facilitate access to authoritative national government data, provide centralised government services (once the degree of government services required is settled) and industry-provided services. The FIMS will also serve as the vital interface with the existing ATM system to enable safe, secure and efficient management of aircraft across all airspace.

According to the report:

“….the FIMS may be used to support awareness and compliance with a range of regulatory requirements specified by relevant government regulators, including rules related to security, privacy, noise and environmental impacts. This will require coordination of regulatory requirements across different issues and jurisdictions (Commonwealth and State/Territory), to prevent duplication or inconsistency in regulatory regimes. Implementation of regulations through the FIMS could support dynamic, targeted and outcomes-focused approaches to managing drone risks and impacts that are not available using traditional methods of regulation. The approach to managing compliance to regulatory requirements through FIMS is expected to evolve over time as drone numbers increase, operational concepts develop, technology improves, and strategies for managing drone risks and impacts become more sophisticated.”

The development of a FIMS will be led by Airservices Australia with an initial pilot programme to be undertaken with inputs from industry and the regulator CASA, to draw up a roadmap of implementation.

“This will include an approach for determining which services are provided by industry (UTM service suppliers), and which services are managed centrally through the FIMS. CASA has also developed an RPAS Digital Platform as a first step to provide information to drone operators about where it is safe to fly. In the short-term this platform could also provide additional functions, such as support for automated approvals in controlled airspace (in collaboration with Airservices). CASA will continue to manage a digital drone registration system, which will interface directly with the FIMS. CASA will provide safety regulatory oversight of the UTM system and operations, including safety oversight of the FIMS. It is expected that the design and implementation of Australia’s IAS including UTM will be an ongoing process over a number of years, and the Australian Government will continue to work in close partnership with industry to ensure the approach, development and deployment of the system remains appropriate as technology and the requirements necessary from the IAS continue to evolve.“

The development, management and operation of Australia’s UTM system is anticipated to be:

  • Implemented in an iterative manner;
  • Integrated and consistent with whole-of-government policy and broader airspace management objectives;
  • Applied with a graduated approach based on the risks and impacts relevant to particular volumes of airspace or locations;
  • Consistent and interoperable with the existing ATM system to facilitate safe integration of all airspace users;
  • Developed through industry consultation, collaboration and technological developments;
  • Consistent and aligned, where appropriate, with international approaches;
  • Market driven by competitive UTM Service Suppliers; and
  • Ensuring fairness for all users in implementation and operating rules, including equitable access to airspace.

The Issues Paper presents the initial position of the government on the development of policy for the drone/remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sectors. The scope is broad, reflecting the government’s “whole-of-government” approach to the sector covering issues from safety regulation, airspace integration, noise, privacy, security, environment to the Government’s approach to industry engagement. The Issues Paper is open for public comment until the 31 October 2020. A copy of the Issues Paper can be found on the Department website:

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/drones/

According to the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS), this is a landmark document – an important first step in the journey to define a comprehensive policy set that will guide all future government decision making in relation to the industry. AAUS welcomes its release and the holistic and coordinated national approach that it reflects.

AAUS will be putting together a detailed response and is seeking input from all of its members. Stay tuned for further details on how to get involved and have your thoughts represented in our response.

AAUS has also arranged for Simon Moore, Assistant Secretary, Safety and Future Technology from within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Communications (DITRDC), to address questions from AAUS Members in the near term.

For more information visit:

www.aaus.org.au

(Image:electra/Shutterstock)

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