The major conference hosted at EUROCONTROL’s Brussels headquarters presented the results from the SESAR Joint Undertaking's portfolio of U-space exploratory research and demonstration projects and Concepts of Operations (ConOps) to around 250 participants from across the aviation spectrum.
During their welcoming speeches, Koen De Vos (European Commission DG MOVE Policy Officer), Philippe Merlo (EUROCONTROL Director European Civil Military Aviation) and Florian Guillermet (SESAR JU Executive Director) emphasised their full commitment and engagement in the development of U-space services, which they see as the key enabler of safe and efficient drone operations across EU airspace, and a central driver of associated economic growth.
The first day of the conference featured a presentation of the U-space ConOps developed by the CORUS project, a EUROCONTROL led project that is part of the SESAR H2020 programme, and which aims to adopt a harmonised approach to integrating drones into very low level airspace in a safe and socially acceptable way. The topics covered included airspace structure, conflict resolution, the U-space services required for safe and efficient drone operations, the safety approach, and metrics for the social acceptability of drone use. Linked to the proposed U-space ConOps, a reference high-level U-space Services Architecture was described. Conference participants also discussed further R&D with the aim of defining the U-space set of Full Services required for the safe integration of manned and unmanned aviation, especially in urban airspace and in the vicinity of airports.
During the second day, three sessions tackled the key questions of safety, interoperability and maturity, each animated by six projects from the SESAR Joint Undertaking's U-space Exploratory Research and Demonstration activities. Each project presented the results of their flight trials and tests, then engaged the audience in a lively question and answer session. The projects were also showcased in a dedicated exhibition outside the conference hall .
The main conclusions of the workshop were unanimous consensus that solid progress is being made by CORUS and SESAR JU U-space Exploratory Research and Demonstration projects; they are achieving good outcomes and providing useful validation exercise recommendations for the deployment initiatives proposed and already in progress across Europe.