April 22, 2021

European Commission Adopts New Rules to Enable Drone Industry Progress

Once implemented, the U-space Regulation will position Europe as a global leader in supporting growth of unmanned aviation

Wing welcomes the adoption of a regulation for U-space in Europe. A thriving and sustainable UAS industry depends on a framework for U-space that meets the needs of many stakeholders. The new framework establishes a safe, secure and open approach that maintains flexibility in allowing Member States to choose how they develop their respective U-space ecosystems.

For Wing, this represents a commitment to the safe and secure integration of new airspace users. Regulatory certainty will create opportunities for new drone services to develop in ways that will positively benefit local communities -- expanding access to essential goods and services; alleviating the strain on overburdened road infrastructure; reducing congestion and carbon emissions; and improving safety in transport. These services depend on a framework for U-space, and the new regulation opens the door to new business models that will contribute to safer, better connected and more livable communities. For European Member States, we believe providing this regulatory certainty will also spur new economic opportunities and jobs driven by unmanned technology.

We believe the regulation takes a pragmatic and balanced approach understanding that the various ways we use airspace will continue to evolve and solutions will need to be developed accordingly. The U-space Regulation recognises how Europe’s aviation system can leverage new unmanned traffic management (UTM) technologies and capabilities available today. It identifies safety and security requirements that U-space service providers (USSPs) must meet in order to be certified to provide services. In addition, the regulation provides flexibility for Member States to choose how to implement U-space in a scalable way to support the volume and diversity of UAS operations.

USSPs are versatile and engineered to support the diverse range of airspace users and business models that will emerge in Europe. While some USSPs will provide services across Europe, some may simply focus on a single European market. Common rules and requirements for USSPs will help to ensure a strong focus on safety and security while promoting innovation and competition.

With this in mind, Wing believes that safe and scalable U-space is best served with a distributed framework in which different operators are supported by approved USSPs that cooperate via a common industry-standard discovery and communication protocol. U-space services may be provided by multiple USSPs in the same airspace. This approach to U-space management will enable remote identification, airspace authorisation, and strategic deconfliction, in addition to other essential capabilities that will help to support the safe operation of drones.

Alongside industry partners, Wing has worked with authorities around the world to demonstrate a distributed U-space model in practice, including with Switzerland’s U-space Implementation Program, France’s U-space Together Program, the UK Department for Transport’s Catapult Program, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Australia. These initiatives are helping to validate these safe, secure, and scalable technologies in real-world settings.

For governments, this framework presents an opportunity to implement U-Space in a scalable way without incurring significant costs. For industry, it creates a pathway for innovation that will help to support UAS integration efforts. And for communities, it will help to bring the benefits of drone services to more people.

Ultimately, this U-space Regulation positions Europe as a global leader in supporting safety, diversity and innovation in unmanned aviation. But airspace integration is an ongoing process. Wing stands ready to work with authorities to help lay the groundwork for U-space today, and to support implementation over the coming year.