While Berlin and Bonn are still working on the implementation of the European drone regulation into German law, the European Commission yesterday made another important decision for the drone economy. The committee around President Ursula von der Leyden and Transport Commissioner Adina Valean has now formally adopted the rules for U-Space, which will take effect in January 2023. This is intended to create the basis for the safe operation of manned and unmanned aircraft in shared airspace.
With the concept of a U-Space, in addition to the safe coexistence of manned and unmanned aviation, in particular the implementation of more complex drone missions such as flights out of sight of the controller (BVLOS) should be made possible. It is up to the individual EU member states to decide where such specially defined zones are set up in the lower airspace. However, according to the recommendation of the European aviation safety authority EASA , this should be done in particular where a larger number of drone deployments or the parallel operation of manned and unmanned aircraft is to be expected.
The term U-Space is therefore not just to be understood as a specially designated part of the airspace. The concept subsumes a number of requirements and services (“a set of services”) that are the basis of drone operations in the defined flight zones. The so-called U-Space Service Providers (USSP), which are supposed to monitor the use of UAVs as service providers, play a central role. A U-Space can only actually be set up and used where at least one USSP offers its services. The providers also serve as an interface between manned and unmanned aviation. Manned airspace participants must make themselves technically visible to the USSP,
The Traffic Information Service is one of four mandatory services that the USSPs must offer. In addition, there is the Network Identification Service, i.e. the constant control of the drone flight movements in the respective U-Space area, for which the UAV operator must obtain a flight permit from a responsible service provider and report the actual take-off (UAS Flight Authorization Service ). With the geo-awareness service, in turn, relevant airspace information, for example about temporary spatial restrictions, is to be transmitted to the operators of unmanned systems.
For this purpose, a set of rules has now been adopted for the U-Space, which, in addition to safety in the sky, should also bring clarity and planning security for companies and national authorities. “The U-Space package is an important step towards creating a well-functioning, trustworthy and safe environment that we need for the development of a competitive European market for drone services,” said Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean following the Commission’s decision. The package of three ordinances – rules for U-Space, requirements for U-Space service providers, requirements for manned aircraft in U-Space – should be part of the “Drone Strategy 2.0″ announced for 2022, the Adina Valean, according to information from Brussels in December 2020 as part of the”EU strategy for sustainable and intelligent mobility” had announced. According to information from the Commission, the Drone Strategy 2.0 is intended to continue to control the developments in technology and its regulatory and commercial framework in order to promote the emergence of a fully developed drone ecosystem in the EU. Consultations in preparation for this strategy are expected to start later this year.