Thales to launch big data-based UTM system this summer

Thales is due to launch its big-data UAS traffic management system (UTM) in late June or early July. The new UTM product – part of its range of ECOsystem aviation-related big data architectures and web-technology platforms – has been designed to enable air navigation service providers (ANSPs) seamlessly integrate their UTM platforms into their current air traffic management (ATM) systems, irrespective of whether they are current Thales customers or not.

“UTM will in most cases be segregated from ATM at the start but ANSPs will want an integrated airspace – whether it is based on national, regional, or even city UTM systems,” according to Olivier Rea, Head of UTM Solutions – ATM Business Line at Thales. “Our new system will be designed for that. Airspace demand will increase hugely with UAVs but we do not know when or how this demand will emerge. So we have developed a system which can manage this unpredictability.”

Thales says it has taken a very different approach to developing its UTM system from other suppliers. It has first developed a cloud-based, global big data storage and analysis network into which UTM providers plug their individual requirements.

“With ATM ANSPs have developed loads of specific functionalities for each different system,” Olivier Rea. “We have learnt from this. Our UTM system is essentially identical between all our customers and how we deal with each specificity in terms of regulations and infrastructure or geo-constraints is to develop a system which is highly configurable. It is scalable up or down. So while the regulations tomorrow will be very different from those of today our system will remain the same.”

“We can’t afford to re-invent the system every two years.”

The company has been developing the concept over the last 18 months with a number of different ANSPs, according to Olivier Rea. It will provide a scalable, transparent cost structure based on individual UTM provider needs.

According to company information: “ECOsystem UTM is a flexible platform designed to bridge the gap between the safety and security requirements of national and local authorities and the operational needs of civil UAS users.  The platform provides an automated means for UAS users to validate their mission against relevant regulations and conform to required authorization and notification processes.  In the US, Thales is supporting the incorporation of the FAA Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) concepts into the validation and workflow engine of ECOSystem UTM.  The solution is now connected to the FAA’s LAANC infrastructure and ready for validation/testing.”

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