Customers include, Airbus, AZANS (the Azerbaijani Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP)), DGAC (the regional civil aviation authority in French Polynesia, DSNA (the French ANSP), European Defence Agency (EDA), European Space Agency (ESA), LfV (the Swedish ANSP), SESAR, skeyes (the Belgian ANSP), Toulouse Metropole.
According to a study undertaken by Gartner in December 2019, worldwide sales of drones is expected to increase by 262% between 2019 and 2023. Given the already very strong growth in drone air traffic, their integration into airspace and UTM (Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management) are now becoming major challenges worldwide.
Since the 2016 Warsaw Declaration, the European Commission has promoted a European vision of UTM and its associated services to drone operators named “U-Space”. U-Space is being progressively implemented through increasingly sophisticated services defined by the SESAR JU in its U-Space Blueprint, planned to culminate in the complete integration of drone operations into General Air Traffic.
Egis has contributed to research and development work underpinning the drone integration challenge. We have also helped customers to assess the opportunities that drones bring to their own operations.
Role of Egis
For Airbus we helped to gather up-to-date information about current activities in the drone domain and stakeholder views on these activities. The study was focused on the command and control (C2) link and safety challenges related to its use in UAM types of drones that Airbus is developing. We interviewed a number of stakeholders from different industries (e.g. ANSP, general aviation and mobile network providers), gathered their insights and produced a set of conclusions to guide Airbus’ internal strategy for C2 link standards.
We provided implementation guidance for AZANS as part of their goal to facilitate the development of a drone industry within Azerbaijan. We set out the collective arrangements of all stakeholders in the entire chain of activity to enable drone operations through the implementation of a state-wide Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) system in line with global and European standards. The guidance outlines actions and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the process.
DGAC French Polynesia:
Feasibility study on using drones for setup and configuration of precision approach path indicator (PAPI) at 11 airports in French Polynesia. Activities included procurement support (drafting technical specifications of call for tenders).
We are actively supporting DSNA with the development of the French U-Space concept of operations by assisting DSNA in identifying needs around UTM and analysing local implementations. Using a UML-based approach, we helped DSNA in modelling the French U-Space needs and the target services. The CORUS concept of operation developed by the SESAR JU was the basis for modelling the data, data flows and functionalities required by U-Space. We then iteratively and incrementally assisted DSNA in complementing this baseline with French UTM operational needs collected in workshops with DSNA operations staff and with results from operational trials. Elements are formally described in easily readable UML diagrams, representing the French UTM operational needs and the services that meet these needs.
Separately, DSNA has selected Egis to design the System Wide Information Management (SWIM) services that will enable U-Space. Within the SESAR R&I programme, we are also supporting DSNA in evaluating the safety performance and the operational interoperability of the next generation of collision avoidance systems (ACAS Xu), which has to take account of drone traffic and maintain the safety benefits brought by collision avoidance systems equipping manned aircraft (TCAS, ACAS Xa).
Through a four-year framework contract, Egis is assisting the EDA with the establishment and promotion of a common military view on the impact of the development of U-Space in Europe and to promote this view to all civilian stakeholders involved in U-Space development. The study started with a first phase in 2021 involving:
- Analysis of the U-Space services currently under implementation, or planned for implementation, and assess whether they could be beneficial to the military or negatively impact their missions;
- Developing military U-Space Use Cases covering a wide scope of military missions and found either beneficial to the military or mandatory when/if the military operate in a U-Space environment;
- Calculating any financial costs for the military resulting from U-Space implementation;
- Formulating guidelines and recommendations to the military regarding U-Space services, and investigate how military Use Cases can be promoted to civilian stakeholders.
We conducted a feasibility study for the European Space Agency on various services enabled by space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). One such service proposed extending ADS-B surveillance to small- and medium-sized drones (<150kg) through miniaturised transmitters. We interviewed potential stakeholders (drone manufacturers, drone operators, air navigation service providers, etc.) to collect their needs and constraints, analysed the technical constraints associated with user requirements and developed an initial assessment of the financial viability of the proposed service.
We provided early guidance to the board of the Swedish ANSP on the anticipated impacts of drones on airspace and operations.
We helped skeyes with implementing their UTM platform, branded ‘Droneguide’. The platform comprises both a web and mobile application hosted in the public cloud and provides initial U-space services (U1 and some U2) to the Belgian drone operator/pilot community. We have also supported skeyes in the implementation of a development & test UTM platform in their private cloud environment, enabling them to start the design and development of a nextgen version of Droneguide and the implementation of interfaces with ATM and MET systems operated by skeyes.
Moving beyond UTM and its integration with air traffic management, Egis is now involved in Urban Air Mobility, supporting Toulouse Metropole with defining and implementing the VILAGIL project. Under the umbrella of the French Caisse des Depots , this project will develop smart transportation with a low carbon footprint and a better management of inter-modality.
At Egis, our mission has always been to support customers with evaluating and introducing new technologies, systems, procedures, and techniques to safely exploit the unique resource that connects our world: our airspace. The many projects we have delivered related to drones and their integration into airspace represent our part in an industry worth anywhere from $10-30 billion, depending on where the boundary is drawn. Today, there is regulation in place, initial implementation of UTM services and the very real prospect of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) ahead.
Work is accelerating across all the dimensions that underpin safe and efficient flight. Our teams are supporting tech and aviation stakeholders around the world; offering deep and unique insights to move projects forward; helping clients explore problems in a structured way, and find effective solutions.