European concept for higher airspace operation

Safe, efficient and scalable operations above conventional flight levels.

The European concept for higher airspace operation (ECHO) SESAR 2020 project aims to enable safe, efficient and scalable operations above the flight levels where conventional air traffic operates.

Increasingly new airspace users and operations are emerging in this higher airspace. The diversity of vehicles is high ranging: from unmanned balloons, airships and solar planes capable of persistent flight, collectively known as High Altitude Platform Systems (HAPS) to super- and hyper-sonic aircraft, trans-atmospheric and suborbital vehicles. Commercial and State space operations are also transiting through the higher airspace for launches and re-entries.

EUROCONTROL led the project and was responsible for coordinating with the project partners and driving the development of the deliverables.


The two-year ECHO project successfully delivered a comprehensive demand analysis, and then a concept of operations for higher airspace traffic management.

The project set up a number of large-scale industry information and consultation events, coordinating closely with EASA to initiate work on the development of the future European Higher Airspace Operation regulatory framework.

A follow-up project within the Digital European Sky programme has been established to build on these results, allowing the ConOps - with its concept elements and operational requirements - to be validated on an incremental and continuous basis.


The ECHO consortium brings together the leading European industry, organisations, institutes and research centres dealing with on higher airspace operations.

The partners are: Airbus UTM (Airbus Operations SL), CIRA, DASSAULT AVIATION, DLR, DSNA, ENAC (Italian CAA), ENAC (French University), ENAV, EUROCONTROL, ONERA and THALES Alenia Space.

For more information, visit the project website.