UAVs in Future ATM

Integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles into future Air Traffic Management

CARE Innovative preliminary study performed by IABG

Today, air traffic management (ATM) is closely related to safe and economic air transportation. Looking at the huge number of daily conducted flights this implies a tremendous task. The situation is expected to become more complicated in near future since air traffic is increasing steadily and, despite the recent events, is expected to follow this trend in the next decades. This demands enormous efforts to maintain safe and economic ATM services within the available, limited airspace in recognition of all environmental constraints.

The situation is aggravated by various development programmes for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which various operators will claim for integration into ATM rather soon.

Currently, the military UAV market is growing with increasing pace. Recent UAV applications in military conflict zones have numerously demonstrated that UAV technology meanwhile have achieved a considerable level of production standard and reliability in many areas.

As such UAV key-technologies which are also applicable to civil UAVs are mainly available or at least under development. These technologies offer a wide range of potential civil applications like support of search and rescue activities, environmental surveillance, pollution detection, weather monitoring, fire monitoring, mapping, coastal and border surveillance and control, surveillance of infra-structural facilities (pipelines, airports, railways, roads, waterways, etc.), airborne telecommunication relay-station and airborne crime reconnaissance.

However, the civil UAV market has not yet started significantly. Main restraints for that can be identified as follows:
  • certification procedures and regulations for civil UAVs are currently almost undefined, and
  • ATM regulations and procedures for a commonly-used airspace environment that allows the operation of civil UAVs have not been developed.
These items lead to the innovative spirit of this study:

By investigation of the impact of UAV operations on ATM, problem and conflict areas between UAVs and other related traffic have to be identified in order to develop adequate air traffic management procedures which will provide the initial environment for the integration of such vehicles into ATM. As a further result of this approach the corresponding design requirements for UAVs can be identified.

Consequently, this study helps to evolve the civil UAV market to start from the technology spin-off out of current military development and technology.


Last validation: 22/01/2008