(A.) Policy and legislation

(A.1) Policy objectives

Drones are a promising source of innovative services for the society, from safer infrastructure inspections to more efficient transport and mobility solutions. Drones also offer an opportunity to green aviation and optimise deliveries. The aim of the Commission is to promote a transport system that is accessible, affordable, efficient, safe, secure and environmentally friendly and to create the conditions for a competitive industry generating growth and jobs. This is why, in perspective of the foreseen increase in drone traffic in Europe, the Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport is addressing the safe operations and management of drone traffic in the wider context of aviation safety.

U-space is a set of new services relying on a high level of digitalisation and automation of functions and specific procedures, supported by AI, designed to provide safe, efficient and secure access to airspace for large numbers of unmanned aircraft, operating automatically and beyond visual line of sight. This initiative confirms the EU’s ambition to develop sustainable and digital mobility solutions.

(A.2) EC perspective and progress report

The impact of the digitalisation cannot be underestimated. Aviation moves from a human-centric system - where safety ultimately depends on pilots and air traffic controllers – towards an information-centric system, where highly automated aircraft can fly safely based on information flowing on mobile telecommunication networks.

As the aviation and mobile telecommunication worlds converge, the need for ICT standard will increase in aviation. This is particularly observable in the field of drones and unmanned aircraft traffic management solution, which are a laboratory for digital aviation solutions.

U-Space is such an unmanned aircraft traffic management solution that which will allow the scaling up of the volume of drone operations that are complex, in environments that are challenging. This would include transport and mobility applications in urban environments, or close to airports.

In 2017, the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking drafted the U-space blueprint, a vision of how to make U-space operationally possible, and launched a number of projects to research and demonstrate initial U-space services. Preliminary results were made available in April 2020, with more demonstration projects planned in the coming years to further validate advanced U-space services.

The EASA published its Opinion 01/2020 on a high-level regulatory framework proposed by the Commission for the U-space in March 2020. The Commission is currently drafting and discussing with Members States a proposed implementing regulation on this basis. This U-space framework would harmonise the provision of an initial set of U-space services across the Union to ensure the safe and scalable operations of UAS.

For what standardisation concerns, the European Commission established the European UAS Standardisation Coordination Group (EUSCG), a joint coordination and advisory group coordinating the drone-related, including U-space, standardisation activities across Europe, and essentially stemming from the EU regulations and EASA rulemaking initiatives. The EUSCG is supported by the work of the AW-Drones Horizon 2020 project, which is developing an open repository of unmanned aircraft standards and validating the suitability of technical standards to comply with existing regulation for drone operations.

(A.3) References 
  • U-space Blueprint, SESAR Joint Undertaking, SESAR Joint Undertaking, 2017, ISBN: 978-92-9216-087-6.
  • DRONES AMSTERDAM DECLARATION, Amsterdam - 28 November 2018.
  • EASA Opinion 01/2020 on a High-level regulatory framework for the U-space, 13 March 2020.
  • EUSCG Rolling Development Plan – continuously maintained (www.euscg.eu).
  • AW-Drones – ongoing (www.aw-drones.eu).

(B.) Requested actions

  • Action 1 Based on the U-space regulatory framework, and in coordination with the European UAS Standardisation Coordination Group (EUSCG), standardise semantic and technical interoperability specifications to exchange U-space information and operational data:
  • between air navigation service providers, common information service providers and U-space service providers; and
  • between U-space service providers and UAS operators.
  • Action 2 The following complementary actions could be developed in addition to the standardisation action:
  • Development of a reference implementation of U-space software components to facilitate the adoption of U-space.
  • Development of a testing platform to assess whether the U-space interfaces developed by service providers comply with the standardised specifications.

(C.) Activities and additional information  

(C.1) Related standardisation activities

ISO/TC 020/SC 016, Unmanned aircraft systems, includes work on UAS Traffic Management (WG4).

WG4 published:

  • ISO/TR 23629-1:2020, UAS traffic management (UTM) — Part 1: Survey results on UTM

WG4 is working on:

  • ISO/WD 23629-5, UAS traffic management (UTM) — Part 5: UTM functional structure
  • ISO/CD 23629-7, UAS traffic management (UTM) — Part 7: Data model for spatial data
  • ISO/WD 23629-12, UAS traffic management (UTM) — Part 12: Requirements for UTM services and service providers

EUROCAE WG-105, Unmanned aircraft systems, includes work on UAS Traffic Management (SG3)

WG-105 WG3 published:

ED-269 - Minimum Operational Performance Standard for UAS Geo-Fencing

ASTM International

ASTM committee FC38, Unmanned aircraft systems, includes work on UAS Traffic Management (in subcommittee FC38.02, Flight Operations).

FC38.02 published:

  • ASTM F3411 – 19, Standard Specification for Remote ID and Tracking

FC38.02 is working on:

  • WK63418, New Specification for Service provided under UAS Traffic Management (UTM)