“UTM market fragments and service suppliers rethink business plans” – latest Unmanned Airspace study

The first six months of 2020 has seen the global UAS traffic management (UTM) market fragment, overturning business plans, market assumptions and business strategies, according to Unmanned Airspace’s latest version of its report The market for UAV Traffic Management Services – 2020-2024 (https://www.unmannedairspace.info/uav-traffic-management-services/_.

Two events have caused this fragmentation. The first is publication of the FAA’s UTM business model based on the successful Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) programme, in which UTM services will be only partly funded from services charges to operators – commercial and other technical services will have to provide the bulk of UTM service supplier (USS) revenue. The second has been a clarification of the potential technical UTM capabilities of mobile network operators (MNOs),

From the GUTMA/GSMA 2020 “Connected Skies” series of webinars it is clear that MNOs will not only be able to provide connectivity but integrate UTM services such as geofencing and alerts, dynamic ground-risk determination, virtual “human-eye” piloting, drone tracking and positioning, real-time data analytics, weather condition reporting and forecasting, post-flight data analysis and reports, airspace access authorisations and cloud services into an inter-connected eco-system. For MNOs, their networks will be to support drone operator (command and control/payload download) services in parallel to UTM services.

This changes the landscape of the UTM market. Where will this leave USS companies?

At first sight, in a very difficult position. There is still clear top-line revenue to be had from working with air navigation service providers (ANSPs) by providing strategic UTM architectures, especially at a national level, and around 2030 there will be a major influx of new business from towns, cities and regions requiring bespoke UTM systems for urban/advanced air mobility concepts. Providing an interface between the UTM and ATM systems is another key role USSs can play. But the prospect of slogging it out with multiple, super-competitive, technically-advanced USS companies in the tactical UTM market is unappealing unless they can develop a range of USPs which will allow them to dominate a sector. No wonder that over the last six months many have begun to re-examine their business models, providing other drone related services such as pizza delivery, insurance and construction site operations integration.

With 5G, MNOs have a technical capability and financial reserves that make partnership agreements with USS companies highly complex – and have very different views on who will be providing what in the future UTM eco-system (see table one).

In the long term USS company business plans will be driven to a large part – in the USA and Europe at least – by the rules of engagement for UTM services currently being drawn up by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). These are currently being drafted by both organisations, with the final iterations likely to be broadly amended from the draft versions following inputs from industry and – in EASA’s case – States.

Table one: Potential UTM roles for ANSPs, USSPs, CAAs, MNOs and others

Who provides what services in a U-space eco system – how USS see the future Who provides what services in a U-space eco system – how MNOs see the future
 

U1

e-Registration – CAA

Electronic chip – MNO/ANSP/USSP

Drone operator online registration – CAA

Drone online registration – CAA

Registration enforcement – CAA

Registration Authority -CAA

e-Identification – MNO/ANSP/USSP

Drone Identification – MNO/ANSP/USSP

e-identification enforcement – CAA/ANSP

Identification Authority – CAA

Pre-tactical geo-fencing – USSP/ANSP

Geo-limitation database – CAA/USSP/ANSP

Drone operator authentication and authorisation – CAA/ANSP

 

U2

Tactical geo-fencing – USSP/ANSP/MNO?

Live airspace data feed – USSP/ANSP/MNO?

Area infringement notification – USSP/ANSP/MNO?

Flight planning management – USSP/ANSP

Automated FPL validation – USSP/ANSP

Operations digital authorisation – USSP/ANSP

Digital NOTAM – USSP/ANSP/SDSP

Weather information – USSP/SDSP

Low-altitude wind forecast – USSP/SDSP

Actual low-altitude wind info – SDSP

Weather info collection – USSP

Weather hazard alerts – SDSP/USSP

Tracking – MNO/USSP

Radio Positioning infrastructure – MNO/USSP

Real-time tracking -MNO/USSP

Tracking data recording – USSP

Monitoring -USSP

Air situation monitoring – USSP

Flight non-conformance detection – USSP

Area infringement detection – USSP

Traffic info multicast- USSP

Alert/Report line – USSP

Drone aeronautical information management -USSP/SDSP/ANSP

UTM-relevant static aeronautical data – USSP/SDSP/ANSP

UTM-relevant dynamic aeronautical data- USSP/SDSP/ANSP

Procedural interface with ATC -USSP/ANSP

ATC/UAS coordination procedures – USSP/ANSP

Flight notification procedures -USSP

Emergency and contingency procedures – USSP/ANSP

Emergency management -USSP/ANSP

Emergency alert line – USSP/ANSP

Emergency assistance information -USSP/ANSP

Strategic de-confliction – USSP

Strategic de-confliction – USSP

 

U3

Dynamic geo-fencing – USSP

Dynamic geo-fencing – ANSP/USSP

Collaborative Interface with ATC – ANSP/USSP

Global air situation monitoring – USSP

ATC alert notification -USSP/ANSP

Tactical de-confliction -DO/USSP

Dynamic capacity management – USSP

Airspace capacity monitoring – USSP

UAS traffic complexity assessment USSP/ANSP

Demand/capacity imbalance detection – USSP/ANSP

UTM measures implementation – USSP/ANSP

 

 

 

U1

e-Registration – CAA

Electronic chip – MNO

Drone operator online registration – CAA

Drone online registration – CAA

Registration enforcement – CAA

Registration Authority -CAA

e-Identification – MNO

Drone Identification – MNO

e-identification enforcement – CAA/ANSP

Identification Authority – CAA

Pre-tactical geo-fencing – MNO

Geo-limitation database – ANSP/MNO

Drone operator authentication and authorisation – CAA/ANSP

 

U2

Tactical geo-fencing – MNO

Live airspace data feed – USSP/ANSP/MNO

Area infringement notification – USSP/ANSP/MNO

Flight planning management – USSP/ANSP/MNO

Automated FPL validation – USSP/MNO

Operations digital authorisation – USSP/MNO

Digital NOTAM – USSP/ANSP/SDSP/MNO

Weather information – SDSP/MNO

Low-altitude wind forecast – SDSP/MNO

Actual low-altitude wind info – SDSP/MNO

Weather info collection – USSP/MNO

Weather hazard alerts – SDSP/USSP/MNO

Tracking – MNO/USSP

Radio Positioning infrastructure – MNO/USSP

Real-time tracking -MNO/USSP

Tracking data recording – USSP/MNO

Monitoring -USSP/MNO

Air situation monitoring – USSP/MNO

Flight non-conformance detection – USSP/other

Area infringement detection – USSP/other

Traffic info multicast- USSP/MNO

Alert/Report line – USSP/MNO

Drone aeronautical information management -USSP/SDSP/ANSP/MNO

UTM-relevant static aeronautical data – USSP/SDSP/ANSP

UTM-relevant dynamic aeronautical data- USSP/SDSP/ANSP/MNO

Procedural interface with ATC -USSP/ANSP/MNO

ATC/UAS coordination procedures – USSP/ANSP/MNO

Flight notification procedures -USSP

Emergency and contingency procedures – USSP/ANSP/MNO

Emergency management -USSP/ANSP/MNO

Emergency alert line – USSP/ANSP/MNO

Emergency assistance information -USSP/ANSP/MNO

Strategic de-confliction – USSP/MNO

Strategic de-confliction – USSP/MNO

 

U3

Dynamic geo-fencing – USSP/MNO

Dynamic geo-fencing – USSP/MNO

Collaborative Interface with ATC – ANSP/USSP/MNO

Global air situation monitoring – USSP/MNO

ATC alert notification -USSP/ANSP/MNO

Tactical de-confliction -DO/USSP/MNO

Dynamic capacity management – USSP/MNO

Airspace capacity monitoring – USSP/MNO

UAS traffic complexity assessment USSP/ANSP/MNO

Demand/capacity imbalance detection – USSP/ANSP/MNO

UTM measures implementation – USSP/ANSP

Notes: Based on the SESAR U-space service level definitions

Key:

CAA – civil aviation authority DO – drone operator MNO – mobile network operator

ANSP – air navigation service provider SDSP – Supplemental data service provider USSP – UTM/U-Space service provider ND – Not decided

 

But there are several challenges before MNOs can adapt their services to the demands of the aviation market. The main one is to convince regulators that MNO service levels in areas such as coverage, latency and back-up procedures are sufficiently robust for UTM operations. Early research[1] suggests that 4G will be sufficient for UTM services especially when they are supported by performance measuring systems which analyse network performance and provide automatic re-routing and deconfliction of drone flights in the event of an outage or interference.

For information on the contents of the report and its implications for the deployment of UTM systems please contact the editor, Philip Butterworth-Hayes at philip@unmannedairspace.info,

[1] https://www.unmannedairspace.info/uncategorized/mobile-phone-network-multi-link-drone-tracking-performance-compared/

“Drones need cellular networks for full-service autonomous operations and UTM” – GUTMA Connected Skies webinar

https://www.unmannedairspace.info/uncategorized/intermittent-cellular-communications-can-still-support-complex-drone-operations-gutma-connected-skies-webinar/

https://www.unmannedairspace.info/uncategorized/relmatech-validates-remote-id-and-tracking-technology-via-5g-networks/

(Image: Shutterstock)

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