In the future air navigation environment, it will be increasingly difficult to work on ATM concepts without integrating the different types of airspace users, including unmanned aircraft. The deployment of the new SESAR systems, procedures, technologies and standards requires a high degree of synchronisation among all stakeholders, and the UAS community has become also a relevant one. The military use of so-called Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has grown exponentially in the past years. The European Commission’s 2011 UAS initiative aims at creating a regulatory framework that will allow the development of their civilian use – e.g. for environmental control, security and a variety of commercial services.
In view of this reality, the SESAR JU launched on the 11th of April a specific study on the integration of UAS in non-segregated airspace in a SESAR air traffic management scenario. The study, known as ICONUS (Initial CON OPS for UAS in SESAR) will be carried out by the ATM FUSION Consortium of Associate Partners to the SJU. The Consortium, led by France’s ONERA, includes five other European entities with long experience in the field of UAS: AVTECH (Sweden); CIRA and Deep Blue (Italy); ENAC (France) and INTA (Spain).
The study will allow the definition of the requirements in terms of capabilities and equipment which UAS users will need to operate in a SESAR environment safely and efficiently.
This study will allow the SESAR JU to understand for instance how UAS will be able to implement new flight separation modes. The study will also show how UAS operations will be influenced by the upcoming paradigm shift in ATM, from airspace-based operations (where airspace users are entirely subdued to all airspace constraints) to trajectory-based operations (where the different elements of air navigation can adapt to ensure the best possible trajectory).
It already appears that some SESAR concepts can be useful for the further development of unmanned flight operations. For instance, SESAR advances in remote control towers technologies and operation could support the UAS community for the development of its “detect and avoid” concept.