Enabling RPAS insertion in controlled airspace

Defining the operational and technical capabilities that will allow remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) to operate in controlled airspace safely, during nominal and emergency conditions.

At EUROCONTROL, we are working with partners to assess the safe operation of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, or drones) in controlled airspace. Our assessment looks at the technical and operational aspect of drone operations in normal and emergency conditions.


As part of the project, we are developing a framework to validate the inserting of RPAS into non-segregated airspace in two streams:

  • Accommodation, with platforms, missions and applications to meet the initial demand, exploiting existing capabilities;
  • Integration, to reach the final objective.

Our validation portion of the project will focus on the RPAS detect and avoid systems’ “collision avoidance” and “remain well clear” functions.

We base our work on a series of fast-time and real-time simulation based exercises, as well as years of modelling, metrics and analysis.


Our goal is to analyse, develop and validate solutions to allow the safe integration of RPAS (piloted drones) in the European air traffic.

Such solutions include:

  • European Detect An Avoid (DAA), including Collision Avoidance (CA) and Remain Well Clear (RWC);
  • Airborne Collision Avoidance System for RPAS (ACAS Xu) for CA and RWC;
  • European Encounter Modelling and Metrics techniques to apply to DAA/RWC enabling the achievement of the above objectives.

In addition we aim to ensure that:

  • The CA and RWC specification for European DAA and ACAS Xu match operational requirements;
  • The CA and RWC interoperability with existing collision avoidance systems, as well as those currently being developed.


Our role

As part of our efforts to help with the integration of RPAS into controlled airspace, EUROCONTROL is leading the standardisation efforts by developing the:

  • Joint Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) Standards with RTCA (US);
  • European standardisation of the new Airborne Collision Avoidance System for civil transport (ACAS Xa);
  • European standardisation of the new Airborne Collision Avoidance System for RPAS (ACAS Xu).

At the same time, we are:

  • Validating the performance of ACAS Xa in European Airspace for EASA;
  • Ensuring EUROCAE/RTCA interoperability as part of the MASPS document;
  • Developing modelling and metrics techniques based on 30 years of ACAS experience.

In addition, we are leading the development of DAA/RWC and ACAS Xu solutions as part of SESAR projects aiming to ensure the safe integration of RPAS into Europe’s ATM system. In this way we are a bridge for information between SESAR and EUROCAE/RTCA.


Our work on this drone integration project is done under the auspices of SESAR’s Wave 2 Project 13 in partnership with DSNA, NATS, LFV/COOPANS, Honeywell Aerospace, Thales avionics SAS, Leonardo, SAAB Aktiebolag, Airbus SAS, Thales Air Systems SAS, NLR.