SESAR PODIUM UTM research programme to highlight progress at demonstration events

Over the coming months, the SESAR Horizon 2020 PODIUM project will perform demonstrations of U-space services and technologies at five locations. Those locations are the Drones Paris Region cluster (Bretigny, France), the Netherland RPAS Test Centre (Markenesse, The Netherlands), Groningen Airport (Eelde, The Netherlands), Hans Christian Andersen Airport (Odense, Denmark) and Rodez-Aveyron Airport (France). The demonstrations will take place until end June 2019.

PODIUM stands for Proving Operations of Drones with Initial Unmanned aircraft system traffic Management. The main PODIUM partners are EUROCONTROL (project coordinator), Airbus, Delair, Drone Paris Region, DSNA, Integra Aerial Services, Naviair, NLR, Orange and Unifly. PODIUM partners will perform BVLOS and VLOS flights covering eighteen operational scenarios, including multiple drone flights and in the vicinity of airports.

The project aims to collect and analyse feedback from drone operators, air traffic controllers, supervisors and authorities with a view to validating the ease-of-use and benefits of U-space. PODIUM seeks a strong engagement from stakeholders in order to strengthen its conclusions on maturity and recommendations for improvements.

For this reason, PODIUM is convening the following U-space visitor events:

  • May 14: “Unexpected” scenarios with security (joint event with SECOPS)
    Hosted by NLR: Netherlands RPAS Test Centre – Marknesse, The Netherlands.
  • May 23: Regular drone usage and interoperability with manned aviation
    Hosted by Integra Aerial Services and Naviair: Hans Christian Andersen Airport – Odense, Denmark.
  • June 4: “Unexpected” scenarios in an ATC controlled airport environment
    Hosted by NLR: Groningen Airport – Eelde, The Netherlands.
  • June 13: Enhanced Business Operations
    Hosted by Drone Paris Region cluster – Bretigny, France.
  • June 26: Interoperability with ATC
    Hosted by Airbus: Rodez-Aveyron Airport, France.
  • October 17: Dissemination event
    EUROCONTROL headquarters, Brussels.

The respective site hosts will issue invitations to local stakeholders shortly. The PODIUM project coordinator, EUROCONTROL, will issue invitations and registration details to a wider set of stakeholders for the final dissemination event.

PODIUM aims to:

  • Demonstrate U-space services, procedures and technologies throughout 2018 and 2019
  • Provide agreed conclusions on the maturity of U-space services and technologies – backed up by evidence on flight efficiency, safety, security and human performance metrics etc. – when used in a defined set of operational scenarios and environments
  • Provide recommendations on future deployment and for regulations and standards

Drafted by the SESAR Joint Undertaking, the U-space blueprint foresees a progressive deployment of U-space linked to four blocks of services and technologies: foundation services (U1), initial services (U2), advanced services (U3) and full services (U4). The PODIUM project will demonstrate the service levels U1, U2 and some limited U3 services, with the aim to validate its unmanned traffic management solution to technology readiness level (TRL) 7 (corresponding to system prototype demonstration in operational environment).

PODIUM will perform four complementary large-scale demonstrations – with over 185 drone test flights and many more opportunity flights – at Odense in Denmark, Bretigny and Toulouse in France, and Eelde in the Netherlands. Unmanned traffic management solutions will be demonstrated for visual line of sight (VLOS) and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights. The scope covers very low level operations in rural and urban areas, in the vicinity of airports, in uncontrolled and controlled airspace, and in mixed environments with manned aviation.

The project will highlight the important role of unmanned traffic management in providing a mutual traffic situational awareness for the involved local actors – including air traffic management (ATM) – as a means to facilitate their day to day drone management. PODIUM will contribute to de-risking the operational and industrial deployment of drone traffic by demonstrating a comprehensive web based unmanned traffic management system, using tracking systems based on GNSS over 1090 MHz, UNB L-Band and GSM networks.

Key aspect in the project is the use of software to manage the drone traffic. Mutual situational awareness means drones are aware of other air traffic around them, as well as the other way around: local air traffic as well as air traffic controllers know where the drones are.

Under the leadership of EUROCONTROL, a comprehensive project organisation has been set up to realise the project, comprising:

  • The main beneficiaries: EUROCONTROL (lead), Airbus, DSNA, DELAIR, Drones Paris Region, Integra Aerial Services, Naviair, NLR, Orange, and Unifly.
  • Third-parties including many small and medium enterprises working in the drone business: Hionos, Drones-Center, Civic Drone, Skydrone Innovations, Green Communication SAS, Luceor, Targetdrone, Pydesign, Azur Drones, Parrot Drones, CDSI, Synovia, Drone Hive, Cerbair, Aeromapper; LVNL, RPAS Services, E-Producties, Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra), Dutch Drone Company; Centre of Odense, University of Southern Denmark (SDU).
  • Stakeholder Advisory Board with varied membership: IATA, ECA, Belgian Police, EUROCAE, CAA DK, DSAC, DSAE, Conseil pour les drones civils, Fédération Professionnelle des Drones Civils, DFS, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment , CAA-NL, LVNL, ENAV

The issue of a final report with conclusions and recommendations on deployment will be available in late 2019.

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