Progress on developing a harmonised approach for integrating drones into Very Low Level airspace

13 February 2018

CORUS, or the “Concept of Operation for EuRopean UTM Systems” to give it its full name, is a SESAR Exploratory Research project tasked with defining a Concept of Operation (CONOPS) for U-space, the European system for managing drones. It aims to address very low level (VLL) drone operations in Europe, including the airspace around airports. CORUS is a two-year project, and EUROCONTROL leads the CORUS consortium comprising DFS, DLR, DSNA, ENAV, Hemav, NATS, Unifly and UPC.

Starting from the U-Space blueprint and from the ATM Master Plan update, the project will produce detailed definitions of the services necessary for VLL drone operations. An initial architecture description will also be proposed. The services will be defined in a way that shows how they can and should be used together to enable safe drone operations, while balancing the needs of the drone sector with those of society as a whole.

The first CORUS project workshop on 23 and 24 January 2018 in Castelldefels, Spain, hosted by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, aimed to explore the most relevant Use Cases for drone operations, and to identify a set of supporting services for the U-space drone management system for Europe. The workshop was attended by around 90 experts from the drone and manned aviation community of stakeholders, with representatives from drone operators, airspace users, manufacturers, research centres and universities, authorities, associations, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), airports and insurance companies.

The workshop successfully collected material that will constitute the basis of the next five months of work of the CORUS consortium, with the aim of publishing a first version of the in June 2018. The CONOPS will be produced under the guidance of an Advisory Board, and will be coordinated with other ongoing “sibling” technical projects. A further workshop is planned to validate the concept (January 2019), followed by a dissemination event (August 2019).

At the workshop, groups of participants attended proceedings of several thematic stands addressing different aspects of the drone concept. The discussions covered the definition of the VLL airspace and operations in different environments, ranging from scarcely populated areas to urban environments, also addressing specific operations in airports. Aspects related to societal acceptance and the institutional framework, legal elements, architecture, solutions and the CONOPS were also explored.

The attendees of the first CORUS Workshop in Castelldefels, Spain, hosted by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.Attendees of the first CORUS workshop.

During the workshop, CORUS partners Hemav, Unifly and UPC organised a demonstration of two drones equipped with ADS-B transmitters, and a drone management system displaying their position.

The CORUS project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 763551.

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