Europe launches €4m drone demonstration programme

rpas3The future integration of drones into European airspace is to be researched as part of a €4 million bid by the SESAR research programme.
Nine out of a possible 23 demonstration projects have been selected, representing 38 partners from eight countries including: Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Each project includes an air navigation service provider and an operator operating within the European Union and/or within Eurocontrol’s member states.
The projects will incorporate existing SESAR research and development activities and will also cover some of its focus areas, such as airborne spacing and separation, integrated controller working position, surface planning and routeing, and business and mission trajectory.
Both optionally piloted and completely remotely piloted systems (RPAS) will participate in the activities. Various types and sizes of RPAS, such as rotary wing, motor gliders, and light observation aircraft both civil and military will be involved in the projects, which are scheduled to take place before Spring 2015.
SESAR notes that the full transparent integration of RPAS into non-segregated airspace will not happen overnight but hopes that this new wave of demonstration activities will be a first step towards achieving this pioneering goal.
The research activities are the result of the 2012 establishment by the European Commission of the European Remotely Piloted Air Systems Steering Group (ERSG), which was mandated to identify, plan, coordinate, and monitor activities necessary to achieve the safe integration of RPAS into a non-segregated ATM environment.
In February, the SESAR Joint Undertaking launched a call for proposals in order to select and co-finance a series of projects offering SESAR integrated RPAS demonstration activities. The purpose of this call was to select a number of projects or activities, including integrated pre-operational flight trials activities, which aim to:

  • Demonstrate how to integrate RPAS into nonsegregated airspace in a multi-aircraft flight environment, with the purpose of exploring the feasibility of integration within the wider aviation community by 2016;
  • Focus on concrete results filling the operational and technical gaps identified for RPAS integration into non-segregated airspace; and
  • Capitalise on the SESAR delivery approach by providing synergies, risk and opportunities, with the overall SESAR programme.

The following projects were selected:

1. AIRICA – ATM Innovative RPAS Integration for Coastguard Applications
Coordinated by:
Nationaal Lucht-en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium (NLR)
Consortium Members:
Netherlands Coastguards
Glasemann Systems GmbH
Royal Netherlands Air Force Command (RNLAF)
2. ARIADNA – Activities on RPAS Integration Assistance and Demonstration for operations in Non-segregated Airspace
Coordinated by:
Indra Sistemas S.A.
Consortium Members:
Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea (AENA)
Centro de Referencia de Investigación, Desarollo e Innovación ATM (CRIDA)
3. CLAIRE – CiviL Airspace Integration of RPAS in Europe
Coordinated by:THALES UK Limited Consortium Members:
NATS (En Route) Plc
4. DEMORPAS – Demonstration Activities for Integration of RPAS in SESAR
Coordinated by:
Ingenieria de Sistemas para la Defensa de España (ISDEFE)
Consortium Members:
Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA)
Fundación Andaluza para el Desarrollo Aeroespacial Aeroespaciales (FADA-CATEC)
5. INSuRE – RPAS Integration into non-segregated ATM
Coordinated by:
IDS Ingegneria Dei Sistemi S.p.A.
Consortium Members:
Sistemi Dinamici S.p.A.
Air Navigation Services of the Czech Republic
6. MedALE – Mediterranean ATM Live Exercise
Coordinated by:
Alenia Aermacchi S.p.A
Consortium Members:
Selex ES
7. ODREA – Operational Demonstration of RPAS in European Airspace
Coordinated by:
Rockwell Collins France (RCF)
Consortium Members:
Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile represented by Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA)
SAGEM Défense Sécurité
8. RAID – RPAS ATM Integration Demonstration
Coordinated by:
Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali ScpA (C.I.R.A. ScpA)
Consortium Members:
Deep Blue SRL
Nextant S.p.A
Nimbus SRL
University of Malta (VoM)
Malta Air Traffic Services (MATS)
9. TEMPAERIS – Testing Emergency Procedures in Approach and En Route Integration Simulation
Coordinated by:DSNA Consortium Members:
ProSkyCassidian SAS
Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC)