SESAR Gulf of Finland U-space project: First demos successfully completed

Jul. 10, 2019

The two demos marked first steps in the Gulf of Finland (GOF) U-space very large demonstrator, but a leap for the implementation of drone traffic management in Europe. For the first time ever, general aviation aircraft, drones, and recreational remote-controlled model aircraft safely shared the airspace above and around an operational airfield during the first demo at the East Helsinki Aerodrome in Pyhtää, Finland, on June 11. During the second demo on June 14, urban drone operations above and below 500 feet were demonstrated in controlled airspace in Tallinn, Estonia.

On 11 June, at Pyhtää East Helsinki Aerodrome in Finland, the project demonstrated how cooperation at uncontrolled airfield is enabled between rotorcraft model fliers, drone professionals, and general aviation to safely share the same airspace within line-of-sight of each other. The GOF partners routed data between three platforms and the air traffic management (ATM) domain. This demonstration showcased the core idea of
U-space, increasing transparency for all users. Mobile 4G networks were used to relay situational awareness data to both ground crew and general aviation flying up to 2000 feet, tracking targets using transponders, and mobile network-based position trackers.

During the second demonstration, which took place on June 14 in Tallinn, Estonia, drone operations were successfully flown in controlled airspace. During the demo flight it was established that the delivery of information required for drone operators to operate their drones is possible by creating a common system, integrating independent technical solutions by different drone services providers. The trial also showcased how authorised drones can operate with privileged status in otherwise restricted areas.

One of the missions simulated a traffic accident to demonstrate how public authority is able to create a temporary flight restriction area around the accident scene, as well as monitor compliance from drone operators, while performing remote identification of drones and pilots through the U-space systems, agnostic of what UTM service the drone pilot was using. Only the police drone had access to the restricted area to provide law enforcement with high-definition,  real-time video, and pictures from the scene, while non-authorised drone pilots were alerted by the system to land immediately. The next demo will focus on long-range, low-level powerline inspection in Läänemaa rural areas in western Estonia.

In August, the GOF U-space demonstrations will continue with a maritime search and rescue exercise involving drones, several aircraft and surface vessels in cooperation with the border guard on August 13 in Hiiumaa, Estonia, long-range forest survey on August 16, operation in densely populated area with Police cooperation in Helsinki on August 20, and on August 22, international parcel delivery with drones over the Gulf of Finland will take place between Torbacka, Finland, and Muraste, Estonia. The demonstration series will be completed by an urban Volocopter air taxi flight from the Vantaa international airport at the end of August 2019.

Read the Press Release

This U-space project is one of several research projects of the SESAR Joint Undertaking, which has received funding within the framework of the European Union's Connection Europe Facility (CEF) programme.