Thales acquires UAE-based start-up AstraUTM – further UTM company consolidation likely

“I am thrilled to announce that our startup has been acquired by Thales, a leader in aerospace, defence, transportation and security industries,” writes Asam Khan, CEO AstraUTM, in a Linkedin post. “Joining forces with Thales opens up an exciting new chapter for us. It enables us to accelerate our growth, broaden our offerings, and leverage powerful synergies to enhance our services. Thales shares our dedication to unbridled, lightening innovation, and I have the utmost confidence that this partnership will take our mission to new heights.”

Astra UTM, headquartered in Dubai, also has offices in Finland and Portugal.  In October 2021 Thales announced it has signed an agreement with Fintraffic Air Navigation Services to implement the initial UTM-centric services in Finland. Astra UTM has delivered the Situational Awareness and Briefing Facility systems for Fintraffic ANS’s Digital Business Platform which is a collaborative initiative under Traffic Management Company Fintraffic Ltd.

Apart from Fintraffic, AstraUTM’s client base includes:

  • The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), who chose AstraUTM as the primary metropolitan drone registration, tracking and alerting system.
  • ENAV S.p.A – Italy; the AstraUTM platform was used as a Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) solution, and included pilot and drone registration, centralized flight applications and evaluation, live flight tracking and monitoring.
  • The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) – India has established the project for conducting experimental BVLOS operations of drones in India, and AstraUTM is one of the final seven consortiums selected as participants.
  • Deployed in a 425km corridor in the remote wilderness of Northern Alberta, Airmarket is using AstraUTM to facilitate trials in the oil and gas industry, in conjunction with the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC), as well as one of North America’s leading energy infrastructure companies, by providing drone based Sensing Data Services.
  • During Expo2020 Dubai implemented AstraUTM for the entire six month duration of the event, and tasked the AstraUTM team with the responsibilities of drone traffic management as well as managing all low level airspace activities on site, such as fireworks, drone light shows, skydiving, hot-air balloons, falconry, kites, and light shows.
  • The AstraUTM solution is a key component of drone delivery trials that are being conducted by Aerocivil Colombia in the city of La Ceja, Colombia.

“Interesting move,” said Philip Butterworth-Hayes, editorial director of Unmanned Airspace. “Thales is a major integrator with its own UTM offering, which comes with a major-integrator price tag. In developing its strategy of offering ATM and UTM-as-a-service to air navigation service providers worldwide, it needs a software-based, agile provider of services which is exactly what Astra-UTM is. I would expect to see the other major integrators – including Leonardo and Indra – make similar moves. We are still in the pre-commercialisation phase of UTM and the business case for providing services rather than infrastructure remains elusive. It will be much easier for the majors to partner with start-ups than downsize their own offerings.”

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(Image: In June 2022 Astra UTM announced commercial drone surveying of two live operational non controlled airports in Regional South Australia will be performed by R2F using SkyLink UAS – Astra UTM software, providing airspace managers with airspace awareness while operating of drones over non controlled regional airports)

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