• Project ID SAFIR
  • Project duration 2018-10-01 > 2020-03-31
  • Cost
    • Total 3.837.780,45
    • EU Contr. 1.328.441,00
  • Status Ongoing

Latest news

  • 16.06.2021

    U-space deployment: building on successful partnership between research and industry

    Read this interview with Florian Guillermet, Executive Director, SESAR JU and Leon van de Pas, CEO, Unifly, on the progress of U-space implementation in Europe.

    Unmanned Airspace

  • 17.05.2021

    SESAR JU as a (U-space) innovation incubator: learning from small and medium-sized enterprises

    Belgian start-up Unifly led the consortium selected for the Safe and Flexible Integration of U-space services in a Real environment (SAFIR) U-space programme in 2018.

    Unmanned Airspace


    U-space demonstrations

    1st of June
    11th of December, 2019
    all over Europe
  • Automation brings efficiency to drone operations

    To safely integrate drones into the airspace, the U-space SAFIR consortium conducted a series of  demonstrations to show how technology can support the safe deployment of a multitude of drones in a challenging airspace environment. Three U-space service providers and one air navigation service provider integrated their services to control the airspace collaboratively. The test scenarios included parcel delivery flights, aerial survey, medical inter-hospital flights and emergency prioritisation supported by leading operators in these domains.

    The use cases were first successfully tested at DronePort in Sint-Truiden, Belgium, a secure test  environment for manned and unmanned aircraft, before transferring to Antwerp City (urban area), Antwerp Airport terminal area and the Port of Antwerp to test the viability of the use cases in a realistic environment. In addition, SAFIR tackled the issue of unregistered drones and their impact on legal drone operations and manned aviation. A specialised radar developed by the CLASS project (See page 20) was deployed to detect rogue drones in critical areas and provide a live feed for the U-space service providers. SAFIR’s federated model enabled information sharing between multiple interoperable services, categorised according to their function.

    SAFIR proved the ability of drones to safeguard critical areas, such as an international port or an urban environment.

    It was demonstrated how the Port of Antwerp could request a drone to inspect a certain area should there be reason for concern, as well as create no-drone zones to manage safety in the port. The project also showed how multiple U-space service providers can operate in the same geographical area at the same time thanks to UTM systems can be interoperable.

    SAFIR demonstrated full availability of the following services: e-identification; pre- tactical, tactical and dynamic geofencing; strategic and tactical deconfliction; tracking and monitoring. The project successfully tested initial, advanced and full U-space services and made recommendations for further research. For example, it concluded that tracking data sourced from different places needs to be fused; full integration is needed between UTM and drone operators on the ground; and interaction with air traffic control is important, preferably in an automated way. Flight authorisation is complex and SAFIR expects European regulation to help clarify drone categories. It also found satellite mobile connectivity performed well, but 4G degrades at higher altitudes and would benefit from a dedicated 4G drone overlay network, particularly relevant to beyond visual line of sight operations.

    SAFIR findings will contribute to the EU regulatory process and deployment of interoperable, harmonised and standardised drone services across Europe.


    SAFIR consortium members


    Lead consortium coordinator is Unifly, a global leader in the field of Unmanned Traffic Management based in Belgium. The Unifly platform connects authorities with pilots to safely integrate drones into the airspace. Authorities can visualize and approve drone flights and manage no-fly zones in real-time. Drone pilots can manage their drones and they can plan and receive flight approvals in line with international and local regulation.



    Amazon Prime Air — a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services Amazon already provides to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.


    skeyes is Belgium's national air navigation service provider, in charge of the safety of air traffic in the civil airspace above Belgium and part of Luxemburg and on six national airports.


    DronePort is a Belgian ecosystem providing infrastructure and services to facilitate research, innovation and entrepreneurship in manned and unmanned aviation. DronePort Incubator is the home for start-ups, organizations and research teams developing, producing or servicing this new market. The test facilities guarantee segregated airspace giving the opportunity to train pilots and test and demonstrate new applications to customers in agriculture, construction, safety, logistics, etc. DronePort is developing a 15ha industry park located at Sint-Truiden with a specific focus on the aerospace and UAS industry.


    Proximus 4G — the mobile network from Proximus reaching 99,99% of the people in the Belgium. Proximus continues to improve its mobile network, to make sure drones fly even farther with a reliable 4G connection. Proximus is a telecommunication & ICT company operating in the Belgian and international markets, serving residential customers, companies and public institutions. Through integrated fixed and mobile networks, Proximus provides access, anywhere and anytime, to digital services and user-friendly solutions. The ambition is to create the Internet of Flying Things, connecting everything and everyone so that people live better and work smarter.


    Port of Antwerp - As Europe's second-largest port, the Port of Antwerp is a major lifeline for the Belgian economy: more than 300 line services to over 800 destinations ensure global and a multimodal connectivity. The port annually handles around 235 million tonnes of international maritime freight, and is home to Europe's largest integrated chemical cluster. The Port of Antwerp accounts, directly and indirectly, for a total of around 143,000 jobs and more than €20 billion added value.


    Helicus operates medical drone based transport solutions. As a platform integrator Helicus works together with air traffic control authorities, health care organisations and industrial actors to offer a complete medical transport solution.


    SABCA is a key Belgian aerospace company founded in 1920.  It has built an extensive and varied know-how based on its 95+ years of experience in designing, building, maintaining, and upgrading large and complex elements for aircraft and space launchers. Its customers and partners are key players in the global aerospace market. SABCA offers a complete range of services to the UAS market such as platform design and manufacturing, ground- and flight testing, UAS qualification and certification, maintenance & payload integration


    Elia Group is active in electricity transmission. It ensures that generation and consumption are balanced around the clock, supplying 30 million end users with electricity. With subsidiaries in Belgium (Elia) and north-east Germany (50Hertz), it operates 18,600 km of high-voltage connections. As such, the group is one of Europe's top 5. With a reliability level of 99.99%, it gives society a robust power grid, which is important for socio-economic prosperity. It also aspires to be a catalyst for a successful energy transition towards a reliable, sustainable and affordable energy system.  


    Explicit is a Danish technology company, founded in 1998, specializing in micro sensor technology and data systems for environmental monitoring and mapping. Explicit's work is focused on enabling environmental data collection by building micro sensor instruments and intelligent data infrastructures that enable emissions surveillance and enforcement.


    C-Astral, Slovenia, is a manufacturer of long-endurance drones for civil and military applications, and an aerospace solutions provider.


    Tekever, Portugal, is a drone OEM and technology provider specialized in the fields of Aeronautics, Space, Defense and Security. 


    Aveillant, UK, part of the Thales group, offers radar technology for the ground-based detection of drones.


    This U-space project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Connection Europe Facility (CEF) programme under grant agreement SJU/LC/344-CTR

    European Union