After being discussed and assessed by stakeholders from the industry, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has finally approved the proposed U-Space regulation. This set of regulations intends to ensure safety in drone operations in low level airspace and in urban areas in general.
One of the main objectives of U-Space services is to ensure the physical separation between aircraft (manned and unmanned). This technology paired with the regulation will allow UAS to operate in new kinds of airspaces. This will be achieved through the automation of processes (automatic monitoring of drone operations, automatic flight request management, automatic conflict management etc.).
The EU Member States will be responsible for designating the geographical zones where the drone operations will be allowed to take place with the support of U-space services. The Member States should remain fully competent to decide to which extent their national airspace should be open to the drones’ operations, or restricted.
This new regulatory packages clearly defines the different parts involved in the U-Space:
- The ‘U-space service providers’ (USSP) are defined as organisations that are to be certified to provide U-space service, which may be in one or more Member States. They will have to provide – at least – four mandatory U-space services:
- traffic information
- flight authorisation
- network identification.
- Drone operators should have access to all U-space service providers in the Union. They will have to establish a contract with one certified USSP of their choice and request their flight authorisation at least 5 minutes prior to estimated take-off time. They will need to hold a certificate and will have to operate in accordance with the regulations of the package.
- Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) will continue to remain responsible for the provision of air traffic management (ATM) services to manned aircraft. They will have to establish arrangements with USSPs to ensure adequate coordination and exchange of information.
- Manned aviation finally also will have to adapt and will have to comply with those provisions from the package that apply to them.
Further safety regulation is being worked on. It is expected that ‘a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA)’ will be published by EASA in December 2021. The draft rules will then be shared for public consultation, during one to three months, before the European Commission will adopt them, and then it will be up to the European Parliament to further look into these. It is said that entry into force is expected for January 2023.