SESAR BURDI research project receives EUR4.7 million to test and implement U-space

The Belgium–Netherlands U-space Reference Design Implementation (BURDI) project has received a EUR4.7 million grant from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility as part of the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking Digital Sky Demonstrator programme.

BURDI is led by a consortium of 18 partners that aims to test and implement a U-space concept. It is driven by a consortium of skeyes as an Air Navigation Service Provider and coordinator of the project, Belgian Defence, SkeyDrone as U-space Service Provider, IT and data providers Unifly and Unisphere, drone operators SABCA, INFRABEL, Helicus, DroneMatrix, FLYING-CAM and Skyports, Port of Antwerp as UAS Geographical zones manager, and supporting entities in relevant domains: Alliance for New Mobility Europe (AME) for communication and dissemination, Future Needs for business sustainability, EUROCONTROL and Netherland Aerospace Centre (NLR) for international harmonisation and AIRBUS for co-creation and coordination of stakeholders towards public embracement of urban air mobility operations.

Testing to the limit

The aim of the project is to apply the new European regulatory U-space framework  – for which some implementation choices were left open by the EU Regulator –  performing use cases. This way, drone users will put skeyes as Common Information Services Provider (CISP) and SkeyDrone as U-space Service Provider (USSP) to the test. How will these services providers handle demands for flight authorisations, traffic information, weather information, and other services in real life environment tests within controlled and uncontrolled airspace as well as Urban Air Mobility context ? How could coordination mechanism with stakeholders be established, for the first time, before U-space airspace implementation as it is required by the European regulation ?

The Project development will be a phased approach:

  1. Limited testing : early U-space services to limited number of drone operators
  2. Extensive testing : early U-space areas open to all drone operators
  3. Full implementation : U-space airspace open to all drone operators.

Tests will mainly be executed in Antwerp, Brussels and Liège. BURDI will start in October 2022 and last for almost 3 years until June 2025.

European U-space

The results of the tests will be regularly presented to an advisory board, consisting of 8 stakeholders: American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM International), Belgian Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA), Inspectie Leefomgeving & Transport (IL&T), City of Antwerp, Proximus, Vereniging Vlaamse Vliegclubs (VVMV), Fédération Francophone des Aéroclubs Moteurs (FFACM) and VIVES University of Applied Sciences.

The advisory board will discuss the outcome of the tests, propose advices, analyse the consequences for further implementation within Europe, …in close collaboration with the consortium.

In the end, the BURDI project is expected to facilitate a real-life U-space implementation within European Member States with the active participation and coordination of all required stakeholders, in a safe and sustainable way. It will ensure safe integration with manned aviation, and it will make a full set of required U-space services available to participating drone operators, including operational interface with air traffic control.

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