News

Driving research & innovation forward with the integration of RPAS into European airspace

Industrial research SESAR 3 JU Project IRINA - IFR RPAS Integration into European Airspace classes, takes off and is ready to push forward the research work on the integration of remote piloted aircraft systems (a specific set of unmanned aircraft, which is remotely operated by a pilot in a control station) into non-segregated airspace.

Comprising a consortium of 10 partners and two affiliated entities led by EUROCONTROL, IRINA will define the infrastructure, services and detect & avoid functionalities required to enable civil and military RPAS to operate in controlled airspace. The activities will span over a three-year period and will address the operational, technical and regulatory challenges of integrating RPAS, which are currently restricted in segregated airspaces in Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) classes, to fly alongside manned aviation in all airspace classes.

Managing RPAS traffic is particularly challenging for air traffic controllers since RPAS fly significantly slower than conventional jet airliners and experience latency in communicating or loss of communications link with the ground. In addition, the high level of automation and capabilities of RPAS differ significantly from those of current manned aircraft. The project will build on the results of the ERICA project and continue the research aiming at removing the constraints on RPAS operations to exclusively segregated airspace focusing on validation exercises, use cases, the development of acceptable means of compliance that meet regulatory requirements and dissemination of the findings among all the relevant stakeholders.

In this connection, IRINA recognises the importance of establishing a strong network of wide-ranging stakeholders to help shape the project’s solutions and outcomes. This is why the project aims to involve as much as possible the UAS and military RPAS communities, air navigation service providers, air traffic controllers, airspace users, flight crew, industry, European institutions, ICAO, standardisation and regulation bodies, scientific community, academia as well as the general public.

It has been widely acknowledged that the integration of RPAS in controlled airspace can serve as a crucial catalyst for unlocking a wide range of civil and governmental applications, promoting the growth of the European RPAS market and resulting in the delivery of new services for European citizens and the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking is driving this project to make it happen.

Pictured: The kick-off meeting of the SESAR Irina project took place at EUROCONTROL's Brussels HQ on 30 June. It was attended in person and online by the IRINA partners and a wide range of stakeholder groups representing the aviation industry, military, standardisation bodies, civil aviation authorities, academia as well as UAS pilots and operators.

Group picture IRINA kick-off meeting

The IRINA project members are:

EUROCONTROL, INDRA SISTEMAS SA (INDRA), SAFRAN ELECTRONICS & DEFENSE (SAFRAN ELECTRONICS & DEFENSE), HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL SRO (HISRO), THALES SIX GTS FRANCE SAS (THALES SIX GTS France), THALES AVS FRANCE SAS (THALES AVS FRANCE SAS), ENTIDAD PUBLICA EMPRESARIAL ENAIRE (ENAIRE), SAAB AKTIEBOLAG (SAAB), L’ETAT FRANCAIS MINISTÈRE DE LA TRANSITION ÉCOLOGIQUE ET DE LA COHÉSION DES TERRITOIRES, DIRECTION GÉNÉRALE DE L’AVIATION CIVILE, DIRECTION DES SERVICES DE LA NAVIGATION AÉRIENNE (DSNA), LUFTFARTSVERKET (LFV), and two affiliated entities: Centro de Referencia de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación ATM, A.I.E (CRIDA) and Ingeniería y Economía del Transporte S.M.E S.A. (INECO).

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