“5G vital to UAS integration “- key finding from SESAR GOF 2.0 virtual and live trials

After one year of preparation and live trials in 2021, the first virtual roadshows of the SESAR Gulf of Finland 2 programme with external partners from Sweden, Denmark took place on April 8 and Latvia took place in April 26. The roadshow trials focused on demonstrating the scalability of the GOF2.0 architecture, by operating a subset of the planned scenarios in three countries of selected advisory board members.

During the virtual trials team of experts tested how unmanned and manned aircraft can operate in unified airspace with the support of unmanned traffic management (UTM) solutions and how cellular networks can support the safe inclusion of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) into common air traffic by enabling UAV-to-UAV and UAV-to-ground communication.

“The goal was to demonstrate and understand how easily Communications Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) and Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) data and systems, as well as local unmanned and manned aircraft operators can be integrated into the GOF2.0 solution. This was to showcase the international scalability of the U-space architecture,” explained Maria Tamm, GOF2.0 project coordinator at EANS.

According to Gints Jakovels, LMT Innovation Lead, 5G will play a critical role in the successful incorporation of UAVs in common airspace. “At the GOF2.0 Roadshow in Riga, LMT main goal was to demonstrate how mobile networks can support the safe inclusion of UAVs into the common air traffic by enabling UAV-to-UAV and UAV-to-ground communication. This is crucial for flight risk assessment and hence successful deployment of drone technologies,” said Jakovels. “Demonstration showed that we can achieve it using existing aviation systems in combination and with integration of new technological solutions as UTM, cellular network and network remote ID.”

The key lessons from both virtual trials, conducted in Latvia and Sweden-Denmark proved that in order enable safe UAV flights, especially in controlled airspace requires both user awareness in airspace and will for change, acceptance, and involvement from crewed aviation. From the outcome of trials, it is inevitable that there must be common information flow, including cellular network prediction and availability to ensure safe communication channel between all stakeholders.

According to Steen Myhre Taschner Erichsen, Naviair Head of UTM Development & Strategy, the need is to bring all involved parties together to test and validate until there is common understanding how to enable safe integration of drones into airspace.

“We already know that drones and U-space introduces new technologies that require higher level automatization. From these trials we got the real-life experience – how the systems work today, what kind of improvement they need to handle future drone traffic in controlled and uncontrolled airspace. Next to that there is a need for procedures, harmonization and responsibility agreements regarding border crossing, handover of control, needed information in the drone flight plan, and potentially CTOT/ACDM like procedures,” explained Taschner Erichsen.

The main lessons from roadshow trials will be an important enabler for the further development of the drone market and will deliver the technical components (services, software, competencies, practices) required to cost-efficiently operate autonomous and semi-autonomous drones beyond visual line of sight in shared airspace.

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