UTM in the U.K.: Partnership of Major Providers Come Together to Build an Open Framework

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UTM in the U.K.

Halftermeyer / CC BY-SA

UTM in the U.K is moving forward.  The project reads like a Who’s Who from the unmanned traffic management (UTM) industry: Wing, GE Technology’s AiRXOS, ANRA Technologies, Altitude Angel, and Raytheon’s Collins Aerospace will work with the U.K.’s Connected Places Catapult (CPC) to develop an open-access UTM framework for drones in the U.K.

“The Connected Places Catapult is bringing together a national and international consortium to develop a world leading Open-Access UTM framework for drones,” says Connected Places. “The project, commissioned by the Department for Transport, will continue laying the groundwork for a safe flying environment for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations in the UK, enabling efficient sharing of airspace with manned aircraft and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations of drones.”

The project represents a shift in approach for the U.K. government, explains Lia Reich, Marketing and Communications UTM for Wing.  This partnership moves the UTM framework to an open model that allows many vendors to participate rather than working with a single provider of airspace services.  It’s a model that the U.S., France, Switzerland, and Australia have also adopted.  As a wide variety of enterprises and agencies develop drone operations, it may be nearly impossible for a single vendor to provide a workable solution for all types of missions and all types of aircraft: opening the system to many vendors ensures faster and broader development.

“This open model will be able to support the diverse operations that drones perform at low altitudes – from drone delivery to emergency response, and even air taxis in the future,” says Reich.

“The key underlying principle of the proposed UTM system is its open nature – that is, open to multiple businesses and stakeholders, between whom data can be exchanged, to foster an innovative ecosystem that encourages businesses to deliver innovative services which safely opens the airspace for the commercial and societal exploitation of drone technology,” said Mark Westwood, Connected Places Catapult CTO.

Bringing in top experts from all over the world with a variety of expertise should not only allow for consideration of many different stakeholders, but will provide a fast start for the development of UTM in the U.K.  All of these players have been major participants in projects developing UTM solutions all over the world for several years.

“The UK is rapidly becoming a global leader in advancing commercial drone technologies.  We are honored to have contributed to all Connected Places Catapult Open-Access UTM Research and Development Programs and are excited to commence Phase 3 simulated and live-flight testing in pursuit of a safe, interoperable, and efficient traffic management system for the UK airspace,” said Amit Ganjoo, CEO and Founder of ANRA Technologies.

“The paradigm for aviation will be different moving forward. We have new performance based standards, new technologies, and this requires continued collaboration between government and industry,” says Reich. “Connected Places Catapult industry partners have been active in testing and deploying open-UTM technologies around the world and supporting the development of UTM standards. This creates a unique opportunity for CPC to leverage the experience of its project participants in Australia, France, the U.S. and others, to accelerate an open approach to UTM in the UK.”



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