Industry viewpoint: Is the timing right for harmonisation of UTM/ATM standards?

The global harmonization of UTM and ATM standards is an undisputed enabler of further growth of the emerging drone industry. For genuine harmonization to happen there is a need for all involved stakeholders to understand each other’s capabilities and work together collaboratively towards a shared vision. 

“As we work to anticipate the operational needs of global providers and multi-national operators, the recognition of standards is an area we can continue to grow global harmonization to reduce UTM complexity and improve safety. In the same way you wouldn’t want the Internet to work differently in every country,  we want the same level of interoperability standards with drones. People take drones with them when they travel, businesses operate in multiple countries, and as standards are adopted globally, they will provide drone operators with a consistent experience country to country and enable providers to bring services around the world” says Reinaldo Negron, co-President of GUTMA and Head of UTM at Wing.

It is more and more evident that the needs of the emerging aviation operators such as Wing require a paradigm shift in the way we approach traffic management.

“As the national civil Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), Airservices Australia is actively pursuing new ways of leveraging technology to serve our customers.  We are well known for providing safe, efficient, secure and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry, and in this era UTM is challenging our traditional concepts for service delivery.  A globally harmonised framework for UTM is key to ensuring an affordable, robust and safe air traffic management solution in the future – it needs to be capable of managing orders of magnitude more traffic for a fraction of the cost of our traditional ATM System” says Michelle Bennetts Executive General Manager at Airservices Australia.

As the ANSP and UTM Service Providers constantly work to respond to the needs of the industry they are discovering that flexibility and harmonization is key.

“Ultimately, we’re working towards a new air traffic management paradigm that serves all modes of flight. Harmonizing UTM, ATM, and UAM systems globally will create an integrated ecosystem that fosters innovation and enables unmanned aviation at scale,” says Sebastian Babiarz, Head of Strategic Business Development at AirMap.

“To develop globally harmonized standards means that the international environment will have the flexibility it needs to innovate and accommodate a range of companies, so even the smallest start-up can provide a service in their local market. We have been encouraged to see the US’s Federal Aviation Administration, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation, Australia’s CASA, and France’s DSNA demonstrate how governments can bring together views of multiple regulators to inform the development of globally harmonized standards.” continues Reinaldo Negron from Wing.

“As a regulator at the fore front of the innovation space we have been exploring with the industry and other advanced regulators to understand the technologies behind the revolution of UTM and to find the best way to foster those with the highest potential of success. This is the reason behind the creation of the Swiss U-Space Implementation, a public private partnership created to encourage the development of a safe, efficient and globally harmonized system in Switzerland. High level partnerships with other regulators (such as the recently signed Declaration of Intent with the FAA) are another essential piece of global harmonization. Only by sharing information among ourselves we will be in a position to harmonize.”  says Lorenzo Murzilli, Leader of the Innovation and Digitalization Unit of the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation.

Eszter Kovacs, Acting Secretary General of GUTMA concludes: “I am thrilled to work for GUTMA and to further develop the association into a safe place where those conversations can happen on a regular basis. We are a unique organization, where not only the industry but the entire ecosystem has the possibility to work together to shape the future. I made it my mission to serve this industry and to facilitate those exchanges and there is no better place than GUTMA to do so!”