• SJU reference # PJ.10-05 /Release 2019
  • Stakeholders
  • Benefits Capacity
    Operational efficiency
  • Status In the pipeline

Large drones or RPAS have been used for many years by the military, but have been restricted to segregated airspace to protect their operations. With increasing demand for large civil RPAS, SESAR members are investigating how best to integrate these vehicles into non-segregated airspace alongside commercial manned traffic.

Managing RPAS traffic is challenging for controllers for a number of reasons. For a start, many RPAS fly significantly slower than conventional airliners. Added to that is the latency in communication that may occur between the operator on the ground and the platform in the air with the possibility of a command and control link loss. RPAS may also require special mission patterns and could be impacted by weather such as strong winds, often far more significantly than other conventional aircraft.

This SESAR research is investigating the technical capability required, and the procedural means to enable RPAS to comply with air traffic control instructions and operate safely in controlled airspace. The work includes looking at the impact of RPAS integration in specific areas, such as instances where RPAS might not be able to comply with all existing manned operational rules. This might include emergency situations such as the loss of the communications link between the remote pilot and vehicle. The candidate solution takes a number of factors into consideration including airworthiness standards, remote pilot and air traffic controller working methods, regulations, technical challenges and operational procedures.


  • Ensuring equitable access to the airspace

  • Enhanced safety and security


  • Security