The SESAR Joint Undertaking (JU), a public-private partnership formed to manage the Development phase of the airspace modernization initiative, has launched a study on the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the airspace.
Civilian and military uses of UASs are increasing, at a time when the use of transport aircraft are also increasing. Europe's SESAR as well as the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) in the United States must address how to safely integrate these unmanned systems with the manned aircraft. The European Commission’s 2011 UAS initiative aims at creating a regulatory framework that will allow the development of their civilian use – e.g. for environmental control, security and a variety of commercial services.
The study, known as ICONUS (Initial CON OPS for UAS in SESAR) will be carried out by the ATM FUSION Consortium of Associate Partners to the SESAR JU. The Consortium, led by France’s ONERA, includes five other European entities with long experience in the field of UAS: AVTECH (Sweden); CIRA and Deep Blue (Italy); ENAC (France) and INTA (Spain).
The study will allow the definition of the requirements in terms of capabilities and equipment which UAS users will need to operate in a SESAR environment safely and efficiently.
This study will allow the SESAR JU to understand for instance how UAS will be able to implement new flight separation modes. The study will also show how UAS operations will be influenced by the upcoming paradigm shift in ATM, from airspace-based operations (where airspace users are entirely subdued to all airspace constraints) to trajectory-based operations (where the different elements of air navigation can adapt to ensure the best possible trajectory).