A new initiative aimed at ensuring the safe integration of manned and unmanned aircraft over Europe has kicked off. It’s a bit of an alphabet soup of acronyms, but it’s pretty interesting stuff.
SESAR stands for Single European Sky ATM Research, where “ATM” stands for Air Traffic Management. It’s a vision of an integrated, automated future where manned and unmanned aircraft seamlessly and safely share the skies. Now, one major aspect of the SESAR Joint Undertaking, a project known as “GOF 2.0 Integrated Urban Airspace Validation” – with a consortium of 13 members – has kicked off its work.
Before you get any ideas, “GOF” stands for “Gulf of Finland.”
All hail, SESAR
The Single European Sky ATM Research initiative is funded by the European Union. That’s a signal, were any needed, that the move towards Urban Air Mobility – the routine movement of people and goods using a blend of manned and unmanned aircraft in an urban setting – is coming.
As one part of this initiative, the SESAR JU Gulf of Finland (GOF) initiative did some preliminary work in 2019 that demonstrated the safe airspace integration of unmanned aerial vehicles. The new phase of research involves the testing of unmanned vehicles in urban airspace over the coming two years.
The integration of unmanned traffic management (UTM) into air traffic management (ATM) systems was already the focus of the SESAR JU research project GOF U-space, which successfully tested U-space services in seven advanced live trials with 11 unmanned and manned aircraft operators. The trials, both in controlled and uncontrolled airspace, and below as well as above 500 feet in urban, rural, and maritime environments, demonstrated that an integrated environment where manned and unmanned aviation share the same data will improve situational awareness and safety.SESAR Joint Undertaking News Release
It’s all about timely data
It appears this next step is really going to focus on sharing accurate, realtime data with the various players. In a larger urban center, there are a lot of balls to juggle – including the fact that local weather conditions can occasionally differ considerably depending on your location within a larger city. Sometimes there’s a heavy, localized storm in one part of town with sunshine and fair conditions elsewhere.
Building on the key learnings and results of this project, SESAR JU GOF 2.0 now intends to safely, securely, and sustainably demonstrate operational validity of serving combined unmanned aerial systems (UAS), electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL), and manned operations in a unified, dense urban airspace using existing ATM and U-space services and systems. Both ATM and U-space communities depend extensively on the provision of timely, relevant, accurate, and quality-assured digital information to collaborate and make informed decisions. The demonstrations will focus on the validation of the GOF 2.0 architecture for highly automated real-time separation assurance in dense airspace, including precision weather and telecom networks for air-ground communication. This will significantly contribute to understanding how the safe integration of UTM and other commercial drone operations into ATM airspace can be implemented without degrading safety, security, or disrupting current airspace operations.SESAR Joint Undertaking News Release
UAM is coming
We’ve been writing a fair bit about Urban Air Mobility.
In fact, there are already plans to build some infrastructure for e-VTOL aircraft in Florida.
This is an exciting phase in the evolution of aviation, and we’ll be following it closely.