Implementing Regulation 2021/664 on the U-Space Regulatory Framework published

On April 23, the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/664 of April 22, 2021 was published on a regulatory framework for U-Space that will allow the start of the U2 phase of provision of services with drones within the U -Space for drones.

This regulation represents a great advance for the development of drones “U-space is a way of responding to the growth of UAS operations in European airspace”, adding “A U-space regulation must guarantee equitable access to operators of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to airspace in a profitable way through a competitive services market ”, that is, it is the step towards the widespread use of drones as one more element of airspace and, in Consequently, the take-off of this technology.

The entry into force of this regulation has required several regulatory modifications through Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/665 of April 22, 2021, which modifies Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/373 as regards regarding the requirements for air traffic management / air navigation service providers and other functions of the air traffic management network in designated U-Space airspace in controlled airspace and the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/666 of the Commission of April 22, 2021 amending Regulation (EU) No. 923/2012 as regards the requirements for manned aviation operating in U-Space airspace (Relevant text for EEA purposes)

What is U-space?

U-space is the name that the European Union has given to the project that involves the creation of its own UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) system, which has already been developed since 2017 and which is expected to be gradually implemented in the future. European airspace, including cities.

A UTM system is a set of methods, processes and tools with which to coordinate the air traffic of unmanned aircraft with that of manned aircraft. The system creates a series of processes and tools that allow the circulation of drones in the most automated and safe way possible in areas where coordination is necessary, either with other drones such as air traffic (ATC – Air Traffic Control) or other authorities.

Initially, the objective is to coordinate the use of these aircraft in low altitude airspace (up to 120 meters above ground level), limiting for the moment to those considered small (up to a maximum of 25 kg of takeoff weight).

A UTM system must allow the coordination of the country’s air authority, who will launch in real time the restrictions it considers at all times, with the drone operators, who will be responsible for complying with said restrictions. The objective, in addition, is to avoid saturating the air authority with a large number of requests for both information and permits, so the UTM system must be able to automate this type of task with the operators.

The objective of a UTM system, in addition to guaranteeing safety, is not to collapse the air authorities in charge of managing airspace due to the increase in the use of drones.

That is why the publication for consultation of the new draft on the U-space Framework represents a very important step in the development and facilitation of drones in Europe.

In the following video posted by SESAR Joint Undertaking, you can see how it will work. You can also refer to our background article about U-space.

The development phases of U-Space are four:

  • Phase U1: Initial and basic services of the U-space, to highlight both the registration and the electronic identification as well as the geofencing system).
  • Phase U2: Initial U-space services for flight management. This includes the creation of a system for flight planning, permit approval, monitoring and conventional interaction with air traffic control (ATC).
  • Phase U3: Support services for more complex situations within the U-space system, such as automation for the resolution of conflicts between aircraft that interfere with each other, as well as obstacle detection and avoidance functionalities.
  • Phase U4: Implementation of all U-space services, including high levels of process automation and interconnection between aircraft, pilots, authorities and other responsible and interested parties.

Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager is the founder of Dronewatch (available in Dutch and English). Wiebe is an experienced drone pilot (RPA-L certified) and has published a number of books about drone photography and cinematography.

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