Often labelled as one of today’s main disruptive technologies, drones have indeed earned this label by prompting a fundamental rethinking of business models, existing laws, safety and security standards, the future of transport, and modern warfare. The European Union (EU) recognises the opportunities that drones offer and sees them as opening a new chapter in the history of aerospace. The EU aviation strategy provides guidance for exploring new and emerging technologies, and encourages the integration of drones into business and society so as to maintain a competitive EU aviation industry.
The two-day U-space ConOps and Research Dissemination Conference concluded with consensus that SESAR Joint Undertaking U-space exploratory research and demonstration projects are on track to deliver, already providing useful lessons learned on how to make the safe and secure drone traffic integration a reality.
On 26 September, the SESAR JU U-space SAFIR consortium held an Open Day hosted by the Port of Antwerp. A multitude of industrial and commercial drone applications were on display during live demonstrations. During the Open Day, the safety and economic viability of integrated drone traffic in a challenging environment was successfully demonstrated by the various use cases of the consortium partners.
The U-space/SESAR DOMUS Project consortium, led by ENAIRE, conducted a public demonstration on 17 September, which doubled as a testing laboratory, to ensure that unmanned aircraft can coexist in a safe, orderly and efficient manner with the other ‘actors’ that use the airspace, such as commercial and general aviation.
EMSA’s service of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) is now being used by the Croatian authorities to assist them in a range of coast guard related functions including vessel traffic monitoring, search and rescue, and detection and monitoring of marine pollution. The request made in February 2019 by Croatia’s Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure sees a vertical take-off and landing RPAS added to their existing surveillance mechanisms for an initial period of three months.
On 11 June 2019 common European rules on drones, Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 & Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, have been published to ensure drone operations across Europe are safe and secure. The rules will amongst others help to protect the safety and the privacy of EU citizens while enabling the free circulation of drones and a level playing field within the European Union.
Autonomous UAV-Retina drones can be instrumental in helping firefighters face emergency situations.
There’s no shortage of products fit for this purpose; most of them, however, focus either on the hardware part (the UAV), or on the software used to collect the data from the ground, and they usually contemplate the presence of a pilot fully dedicated to guiding the drones.
A medium altitude long endurance RPAS drone is being used by the Icelandic maritime authorities to enhance the maritime picture over its Exclusive Economic Zone, the service follows a request made by the Icelandic coast guard to EMSA and is expected to run until mid-July. The RPAS chosen will be integrated into the existing surveillance mechanisms and procedures covering coast guard functions in the areas of maritime safety and security, search and rescue, environmental protection, law enforcement and fisheries control.
EMSA’s service of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) is now being used by the Danish authorities to monitor ship emissions around the area of the Great Belt where many large tankers transit on their way to and from the Baltic Sea. The RPAS will specifically measure the ships’ sulphur emissions to check compliance with EU rules governing the sulphur content of marine fuel.
AESA (Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea/ State Agency for Aviation Security) has taken on board the use of EGNOS and Galileo in drones.
The added value of EGNSS (Galileo and EGNOS) for drones was the focus of a special session organised by the European GNSS Agency (GSA) at this year’s World ATM Congress in Madrid on 12 March, at which representatives from several projects spoke about how they are benefitting from the European space programme.
Updated: an annex published in the Council register.