IFR RPAS Integration into European Airspace

IRINA is a project that spans over three years and builds upon research projects conducted on RPAS insertion - the most recent being SESAR 2020 PJ13 ERICA. The project aims to finalise the ATM infrastructure and services as well as the Detect and Avoid capability required on RPAS. The scope covers the integration of military and civil IFR RPAS operations in Airspace Class A to C. Additionally, it seeks to address a fast-track early flight accommodation of civil and military RPAS in Airspace Class D to G which have a different traffic mix and separation responsibility. The project comprises three WP packages, with WP 2 (scoped for airspace classes A-C) and WP 3 (scoped for airspace classes D-G) being the primary ones. These packages not only focus on the full integration of RPAS into European airspace, but also on the transition between ATM and UTM (U-space in Europe) airspaces.

The project is being proposed by a consortium that is coordinated and managed by EUROCONTROL. This is all being done within the framework of the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking and Europe's Horizon 2020 programme. Those involved in this project have considerable experience in the field at hand. They will be evaluating the work that has been performed in other projects, publications and dissemination data. All of this will be used across various tasks and exercises to ensure that the RPAS community's expectations are met regarding safe RPAS operations integration in different sets of airspace classes. The deliverables will contribute to the relevant standardisation working groups by sharing the findings of the IRINA project. Additionally, they will develop acceptable means of compliance that meet regulatory requirements.


The topics of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) and UTM (U-space) are currently at the forefront of research, innovation and implementation. Europe is committed to facilitate the development of early solutions to support this rapidly growing industry and establish a harmonised approach for integrating IFR RPAS into European airspace classes, alongside other RPAS and manned aviation.

Air traffic controllers face challenges when managing RPAS traffic as the navigation performances, the high level of automation and capabilities of RPAS differ significantly from those of current manned aircraft. The IRINA solutions aim to demonstrate the operational capabilities of RPAS, seeking opportunities to offer feedback on new concepts and systems that promote sustainable aviation, and in search of operational concepts and requirements founded on use cases, which will amalgamate the validation exercises to be executed in both solutions. Consequently, extensive research and review of any research made on RPAS is indispensable to formulate appropriate operational, technical and regulatory outputs, with the aim of removing the constraints on RPAS operations to exclusively segregated airspace.


The successful integration of RPAS operations into different sets of airspace classes can only be achieved through a gradual developmental process that guarantees the establishment of proper analysis and validation. It is also essential to foster collaboration in the development of the two solutions from WP 2 and WP 3. Such solutions should be tailored to meet the expected type of operations and levels of demand from distinct target groups, including ANSPs interested in securing operational support, RPAS operators for various operational cases and the European institutions that view this project as a catalyst for the performance of the Single European Sky.


The primary deliverables will offer comprehensive information on the functional and technical components, prerequisites and verification outcomes that will showcase the projected effects achieved through the utilisation of software, algorithms and prototypes that were crafted as part of the project's scope. These results will encompass valuable insights for regulatory agencies, standardisation entities and academic researchers, among other stakeholders.

Additionally, the project will organise workshops and communication campaigns aimed at the RPAS community.

The consortium is coordinated by EUROCONTROL.  Our Innovation Hub experts lead work package 1 (WP1) by applying project management's best practices to deliver the IRINA SESAR solutions. This is aimed at ensuring the safe integration of IFR RPAS in different sets of airspace classes. Additionally, EUROCONTROL will make a significant contribution towards validation and demonstration management activities. Their goal is to ensure that these activities align with wider ATM, UTM (U-space) EU strategies.