GUTMA stands for the Global UTM Association. It’s a non-profit consortium of stakeholders in the Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) world. And its new paper, in its own words, “marks a significant milestone in the association’s history.” Let’s find out why.
The members of GUTMA are spread over 25+ countries. And the members tend to be involved with one of the following sectors/activities: UAS manufacturing, UAS operations, Air Navigation service provision, infrastructure and data, UTM service provision, regulatory bodies and research institutes. All have an interest in ensuring Unmanned Traffic Management – the safe integration of manned and unmanned vehicles sharing common airspace. It’s an issue that will require a universal solution as the world heads toward more routine Beyond Visual Line of Sight flights, Urban Air Mobility, and more widespread deliveries by UAV.
Now, GUTMA is advancing this with its new paper.
‘Designing UTM for Global Success’
It’s a major accomplishment for GUTMA, and one that involved collaboration and consensus among members. The paper aims to cover several areas:
Given the fact that a diverse set of UAS stakeholders are looking towards UTM as
the means to safely scale operations, we should be mindful to develop a global infrastructure and regulatory paradigm that is able to harmonize with existing Air Traffic Management technologies and safely support the growing needs of emerging aviation stakeholders at the desired pace. This paper outlines GUTMA’s consolidated position on the emerging needs of new aviation forms and associated UTM stakeholders, as well as outlines the necessary changes required to accommodate them. Furthermore, the paper highlights the developing technology standards and best practices which are crucial to the evolution and market readiness of UTM. Finally, it provides GUTMA’s recommendations to all stakeholders on the best way to foster this innovation at scale.
UTM is a big topic. It’s also complex, when you consider the number of diverse stakeholders involved. What might seem like an ideal solution for a UAS operator might not fit with the needs of someone else in the drone ecosystem. This GUTMA paper is important because it represents a common, consolidated view from its members. It sets out the challenge in its first few paragraphs:
To safely enable the growth of unmanned operations across the multitude of use cases that are anticipated, and to realize the true potential of these technologies, a globally harmonized, common framework for UTM must be supported. Core to harmonization lies the challenge
of integrating operations, not only between Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), but also between UAS operators, legacy operators and new entrants to the airspace. Accordingly, the emerging aviation community must define and validate how alternative approaches to traffic management can uphold applicable target levels of safety in the airspace system and equitable access to airspace whilst meeting the business imperatives of efficiency, reliability and economies of scale. Again, the focus must be on safety in the context of integration, not segregation.
‘Designing UTM for Global Success’ – GUTMA
One of the key issues to address, says the paper, is interoperability: Ensuring that the system works for each of the various stakeholders. The paper includes this graphic to explain the concept and the challenges:
Well, it’s coming fast. And the paper has some conclusions/recommendations for going forward. Key to its consolidated view if the desire among stakeholders for a hopefully universal system. No one wants to have different rules between different states – or between different countries. Just as international aviation has certain agreed standards that apply, so too should do GUTMA members believe there should eventually be a single UTM system.
International standards are vital to harmonizing UTM globally. As previously discussed, creating a common framework with consistent data protocols is key to scaling unmanned operations in UTM. With unmanned operations becoming ever more widespread, users are developing expectations that do not change across State boundaries. Aviation has always benefited from an internationally harmonized methodology and performance-based standards will ensure that UTM provides a reliable backbone for the maturation of unmanned operations. GUTMA recommends that all stakeholders invest significant resources in standard development efforts geared towards
the creation of a common global UTM framework.
‘Designing UTM for Global Success’ – GUTMA
The GUTMA paper is thoughtful, and contains some useful background on topics such as Remote Identification for drones. You can download a copy of the 18-page report here.