Around 100 people coming from different countries and industry domains met last 31st May and 1st June in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain for the first U-ELCOME workshop.
This first workshop brought together regulators, USSPs, software companies, ANSPs, CISPs and users assembled to discuss their vision and experience about the implementation of U-space.
During these two days, the audience examined the implementation of U-space through the lens of the U-space regulation EU IR 2021/664. With this purpose, enriching discussions centred on the different articles of the regulation were held in small groups. These discussions attempted to identify areas of agreement on the implementation and open questions that still need to be addressed. The participants were very active in discussing and even answered some of the questions raised.
There was general agreement that the workshop was useful both for the questions that were answered in the workshop and for the discovery that some problems were shared by many.
The issues and solutions collected at the workshop are valuable inputs for the U-space Implementation Handbook that is being developed by the U-ELCOME project. Moreover, the workshop was not only a chance to collect this issue but also to start an ongoing dialogue with U-space implementation projects all over Europe. During the life of U-ELCOME contact with implementers will continue to help build the handbook.
The topics discussed include issues of great interest such as Dynamic Airspace Reconfiguration, performance requirements or contingency procedures among others.
Regarding Dynamic Airspace Reconfiguration (DAR), the guidance from EASA is to use DAR only in exceptional cases. Many see it as a way to implement changes to a U-space airspace near an airport resulting from a change of runway in use. To achieve that, a practical and safe method is needed for implementing unexceptional changes to U-space airspace.
On the other hand, each U-space airspace will have specific technical and operational performance requirements, for example, the deviation thresholds and any corresponding speed limitations. These will come from the airspace risk assessment which will consider the expected traffic patterns and levels and related operational “concept of operations”. In this way, it is expected that as more experience is gained, common patterns will emerge and the technical and operational requirements will fall into sets of commonly used values.
These are the early days of U-space implementation and for some items in the current regulation, acceptable means of compliance and guidance material there is a general requirement but no detail, for example, how contingency procedures for the case of lost link should be communicated by the UAS operator to the USSP. U-ELCOME aims to identify good practice for this.
Concerning USSPs, today many of them offer a visual presentation of traffic information and related data for the UAS pilot. However, many acknowledge that it would be best to integrate this information into the visual display used by the UAS pilot. To achieve this, standardised interfaces are needed for connecting the “ground control station” to the U-space services.
Overall, the workshop was useful to identify a few common expectations. The attendees agreed that good steps are being taken towards the development and deployment of U-space but it is necessary to continue working on the standardization and definition of certain key concepts that make U-space a reality.