PODIUM: Innovating U-space hands-on!

PODIUM Dissemination event speaker addressing the audience.

The EUROCONTROL-led SESAR Horizon 2020 PODIUM project reviewed its conclusions on U-space maturity and recommendations for deployment with an invited group of engaged stakeholders at an event held at EUROCONTROL Brussels headquarters on 17 October 2019.

PODIUM has performed U-space demonstrations for visual-line-of-sight (VLOS) and beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights at five operational sites in Europe, namely: Hans Christian Andersen airport, Odense; the Netherlands RPAS Test Centre, Marknesse; Groningen Airport Eelde; the Drones Paris Région cluster, Brétigny-sur-Orge; and Rodez-Aveyron airport.

Thanks to PODIUM, innovative drone pilots and manufacturers, air traffic controllers and nominal U-space supervisors have used U-space services and systems hands-on, providing the team with valuable insights on the ease-of-use, the benefits and areas for improvement”, explains Peter Alty, the EUROCONTROL Project Coordinator.

The project concludes that there is a very strong demand from all stakeholders for U-space solutions that can ease the burden of obtaining flight authorisations, and that increase situational awareness to enable safety and efficiency benefits during flight execution. U-space services for the pre-flight phase are practically ready for deployment. However, significant action is needed to ensure that U-space services can really take off in the flight execution phase. In particular, PODIUM has important recommendations relating to tracking, the human machine interface for drone pilots, and the access to trustworthy data. PODIUM aims to publish its final demonstration report in November 2019.

Operational and technical panels

During the morning session, NLR pilots from the Netherlands RPAS Test Centre, Matthijs van Essen and Jasper van der Vorst, performed a live demonstration - using the Unifly UTM system – of the registration, flight planning and authorisation flows for a BVLOS flight at Groningen Airport Eelde. Nicolas Sonnet of Aeromapper used a video of a BVLOS flight at Brétigny to explain the practicalities of using the UTM system during the flight execution phase.

I need to work with six authorities to get approval for a BVLOS flight in Denmark,” stressed Brad Beach of UAS Denmark. “The way that ATC handles drones is very unpredictable; there is a real lack of harmonisation in Europe”, added Bastien Mancini of DELAIR. “I can’t use ‘see and avoid’  to spot a drone when I’m on duty in the towerthe Airbus solution really helps me to see the DELAIR drone on the screen,” explained Charles Dournel, an air traffic controller at Rodez-Aveyron airport.

There were many other valuable insights highlighted during the two panel sessions on operational and technical aspects, and business considerations.

EUROCONTROL experts in validation, human performance, safety and security have actively led the collection and analysis of data from the demonstrations. EUROCONTROL’s Laurence Rognin made a defining presentation on the work performed and the consensus view of the consortium on the readiness of U-space services for deployment.

To our event page for all the presentations


PODIUM stands for Proving Operations of Drones with Initial Unmanned aircraft system traffic Management. The main PODIUM partners are EUROCONTROL (project coordinator), Airbus, Delair, Drone Paris Region, DSNA, Integra Aerial Services, Naviair, NLR, Orange and Unifly. PODIUM supports U-space, the European vision for the safe, secure and efficient handling of drone traffic, and a key enabler for a growing drone market to generate economic and societal benefits.

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