UAS ATM Airspace Assessment

10 December 2018

The many activities for which unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are used – from military through commercial to leisure – can be performed by pilots who are not necessarily aware of the rules of the air. They can therefore pose a serious safety threat if they fly over or near crowds or urban landscapes, or close to roads or airports. UAS can also pose a very dangerous physical or economic security threat should they fly near sensitive areas.

It is necessary, therefore, to determine which zones of airspace UAS may be permitted to fly in and which they should be excluded from.

This document provides a basis for discussion of airspace assessments with a view to integrating UAS into air-traffic management (ATM), following a workshop and a series of webinars organised by EUROCONTROL in collaboration with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

An airspace assessment involves taking a critical look at a certain airspace volume (including the CTR) to identify the types of operation that will be conducted in that airspace, and examining the associated air and ground risks.

There are several elements in an overall airspace assessment, including a possible re-design of the airspace, CNS requirements, geo-fencing requirements, and possibly re-assigning a different airspace classification. The outcome will define the areas and levels of air and ground risk as mentioned in the JARUS Specific Operational Risk Assessment (SORA).

The UAS airspace assessment recommended here has many similarities with the existing methodology for airspace design. It will be used in the first assessment that will be conducted in the CTR of RIGA. The outcome of this will be used to further fine tune the initial approach and provide input for the development of a UAS Airspace Assessment manual.