SESAR Gulf of Finland U-Space demos reach next level

The European GOF U-Space project in Estonia and Finland plans to take concrete steps towards showcasing how U-space can serve both unmanned and manned aviation from the outset.

The broad consortium with 19 members, including three world-leading UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) technology vendors, two air navigation services providers as well as deep air traffic management experience is developing interoperability and data-sharing solutions, which are aligned with the overall U-space architecture that has been devised by the European ATM research body, the SESAR Joint Undertaking.

Its objective includes developing a pre-operational authority SWIM-based Flight Information Management System (FIMS) integrates existing commercial off the shelf (COTS) UTM components.

The consortium is also proposing and demonstrating new interoperability solutions to bridge gaps when needed. Seven advanced drone operational scenarios including both manned and unmanned aircraft in shared airspace demonstrate many of the most attractive use cases, relying on U-space services to be safe as well as cost effective with the aim to accelerate the realisation of a shared U-space in Europe, starting with low-level airspace.

All three UTM technology vendors share responsibility for providing U-space services to the drone operators and authorities in the trials. Data sharing will happen through the FIMS as well as delegated directly from UTM to UTM serving the same airspace. The seven ambitious trials include ten drone operators in addition to manned aircraft: international parcel delivery between Helsinki and Tallinn, dense urban drone fleet operations in Helsinki with police intervention and also in Tallinn in controlled airspace, 100km+ beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) multisensory inspection flights in forestry and utility inspection, co-operation with general aviation and recreational users at uncontrolled airfield, maritime search-and-rescue with drones and helicopters, and an electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) Volocopter Air Taxi flight from Helsinki-Vantaa airport to Helsinki.

The GOF concept enables shared situational awareness for all aviation stakeholders. The proposed SWIM-based, service-oriented architecture (SOA) underlines that the proposed data exchange layer might be subject to a centralised regime owned by the ANSPs providing unique services to U-space service providers (USSP). GOF addresses not only FIMS to USSP connectivity, but also proposes an open industry standard for connecting unmanned systems (UAS) to selected USSP services. ATM data, such as traffic information, is available to USSP’s through the FIMS, and vice versa, making U-space immediately relevant for low-level aircraft, such as Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS), air taxis and state aviation. FIMS’s in different Flight Information Regions (FIR) can also be interconnected, which will be demonstrated by connecting the FIMS in Estonia to the FIMS in Finland to handle cross-border operations in one of the trials.

GOF and its different live trials have already generated large interest with both unmanned and manned stakeholder groups, and has activated and inspired the commercial drone services scene in both Estonia and in Finland. The trials will be open to qualified visitors.