U-space Opinion Explained
You may have heard about the new European Union regulations 2019/945 and 2019/947 that will enter into force by the end of 2020. In short, these directives divide drone operations into several categories and define requirements on pilots and drones for each of the categories.
However, these are not the only rules you should be aware of as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has already proposed a new regulation around the so-called U-space airspace and related services via its Opinion No 01/2020. If approved, this regulation should enter into force by the beginning of 2022.
Establishment of U-space
As the volume of drone traffic increases, EASA has decided to establish the U-space, a universally regulated pan-European airspace that will be dedicated primarily to drone operations.
The geographical designation of each U-space airspace will be conducted by the given member state within its territory. It may be set up in either controlled or uncontrolled airspace. When establishing the U-space within controlled airspace, all existing principles maintained by Air Traffic Control (ATC) must be respected.
Two New Entities in Place
Besides the establishment of the U-space airspace itself, the opinion lays a foundation for two new entities that will manage it: Common Information System Provider (CISP) and U-space Service Provider (USSP).
Each U-space will have only one designated CISP, while there may be an unlimited number of USSPs. Drone operators will communicate exclusively with the USSPs, and the function of the CISP will be to synchronize data between all USSPs and also other institutions such as ATCs.
Both CISP and USSP must be certified. Whereas each member state will sign an exclusive contract with one CISP for each given U-space, the USSPs will be able to operate throughout the whole U-space across all member states.
Effect on Aircraft Operators
The proposed regulation orders the USSPs to administer several services that directly affect all drone operations within the U-space. The exception being operations with drones that are either toys, part of a model aircraft club, or weigh below 250 grams.
In order to enter the U-space, drone operators will have to use services from one USSP of their choosing. It is presumed that the USSP will charge a fee for its services. The overall aim of these services is to establish safe airspace for all its participants and enable advanced drone operations.
As a result, drone operators will be obliged or enabled to:
- Transmit their drone’s identification and position via a cellular network.
- View special zones, plan their flight, and get flight authorization.
- Display the airspace, including both unmanned and manned aircraft traffic.
- Receive notifications about the ongoing traffic in order to prevent collisions.
Furthermore, the opinion also requires operators of manned aircraft, such as parachutes or helicopters, to make their position available to the USSPs at regular intervals when flying within the U-space.
Dronetag and U-space
What solution will Dronetag bring for the U-space? As we already develop software for flight management, we aspire to provide U-space services as one of the certified USSPs. In addition, we develop hardware that will enable drone operators to comply with the U-space remote identification requirement. Overall, we aim to offer a complete solution for all drone operations within the U-space.
What Is Next
The opinion must be first accepted by the European Commission in order to enter into force. At the moment, many of the points are still being discussed with relevant stakeholders from the industry who help to shape the regulation.
It is expected that there will be a final and accepted version of the opinion by the end of 2020 and that the regulation will enter into force in early 2022.
Disclaimer: Information in this article was valid on the date published. It describes a regulation proposal that may have been updated by the time you are reading this article.