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Proving Operations of Drones with Initial UTM Management

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PODIUM (Proving Operations of Drones with Initial UTM Management)

reporting.reporting_period 2019-01-01 2019-12-31

PODIUM (Proving Operations of Drones with Initial UTM) aims to:

•Demonstrate U-space services, procedures and technologies (U1, U2 and some limited U3) at five operational sites at Hans Christian Andersen airport, Odense; the Drones Paris Region cluster, Brétigny-sur-Orge; Rodez-Aveyron airport; the Netherlands RPAS Test Centre, Marknesse; and Groningen Airport Eelde - during late 2018 and the first half of 2019;
•Provide agreed conclusions on the maturity of U-space services and technologies with respect to TRL7 – backed up by evidence on flight efficiency, safety, security and human performance metrics etc. – when used in a defined set of operational scenarios and environments;
•Provide recommendations on future deployment and for regulations and standards.

What are the problems/issues being addressed?

As long as drones are operated as VLOS, the drone pilot can avoid other traffic based on the “see and avoid” principle. To ensure an equivalent level of manned aviation safety, additional means for drone operations are required.

Today a number of manual processes to be performed before a drone operator can actually fly an operation.

All this takes time and effort which can impact the commercial viability of certain drone operations.

The demand for drone services is steadily increasing, with the potential to generate significant economic growth and societal benefits in many areas like job creation, safety and security, CO2 emission reduction and environmental protection.
During the first half of 2018, the project developed the Demonstration Plan and the Concept and Architecture Description. In the second half of 2018, the project developed the PODIUM UTM solution comprising the core services and systems; developed a Common Metrics toolkit to support validation; performed on-site integration testing; held kick-off meetings for the individual sites; and ramped-up communications and awareness activities.

The mock-up session held at Hans Christian Andersen airport in January 2019, provided a further opportunity to test the overall PODIUM system on site, and for drone operators and other stakeholders to provide early feedback on their expectations regarding the demonstration activities. The Work Package 3 System Availability Note was submitted to the Horizon 2020 portal in January. WP03 made further refinements – notably with regards to national datasets and UTM functionality – throughout the first half of 2019.

The main on-site preparation activities – including the acquisition of waivers – we performed from February onwards, leading to an intense period of site demonstration activities in the April to June period. 18 operational scenarios – comprising 73 demonstration flights and 138 authorisation workflows – were performed across the five operational sites. Under the guidance of Work Package 7, the project collected validation data from: 41 post demonstration questionnaires completed by participants; 5 facilitated de-briefing sessions; and observations from EUROCONTROL validation experts and partners. 5 visitor days with local stakeholders were held at the sites.
Work Package 7 analysed the collected data from mid-June until late August. The results of this analysis were used to support the development of the individual site demonstration reports. Subsequently, Work Package 1 prepared a consolidated Demonstration Report which was submitted to the Horizon 2020 portal at the end of October.

Work Package 8 has been very proactive with communications and dissemination activities, including the publication of articles; videos; a strong presence at the World ATM conference; a very visible social media presence; and a dissemination event at EUROCONTROL Brussels on the 17th of October.
Work Package 2 made two revisions to the PODIUM Concept & Architecture Description, principally to take into account the feedback from the demonstrations and maintain alignment with two revisions of the CORUS U-space concept of operations.

PODIUM concludes that there is a very strong demand from all stakeholders for U-space solutions that can ease the burden of obtaining flight authorisations, and that increase situational awareness to enable safety and efficiency benefits during flight execution. The project concludes that U-space services for the pre-flight phase are practically ready for deployment, but that significant action is needed to ensure that  U-space services can really take-off in the flight execution phase. In particular, PODIUM has important recommendations relating to tracking, the human machine interface for drone pilots, and the access to trustworthy data.
Dissemination and Exploitation

Work Package 8 has been very proactive with communications and dissemination activities, including the publication of articles; several videos; a strong presence at the World ATM conference and other conferences; a very visible social media presence; 5 visitors days at the demonstration sites; and a dissemination event at EUROCONTROL Brussels on the 17th of October.

PODIUM considers that the pre-flight services are practically ready now for deployment, albeit with a number of important remarks. On the other hand, PODIUM considers that major action is required before flight execution services can really take off! Moreover, PODIUM considers that the use of UTM for complex scenarios with high drone traffic and/or interaction with manned aviation requires significant progress in rule-based automation. Hence, PODIUM concludes that pre-flight services can be deployed rapidly, and that – subsequent to significant actions – flight execution services could certainly be deployed with 5 to 8 years.

The partners have participated in PODIUM in line with their expectations for U-space. In the case of industry, they have provided products in line with their product roadmaps. In the case of ANSPs, they have participated in PODIUM in line with their wider U-space programmes.
The PODIUM project has gone beyond the current state of the art, by providing evidence on the ease of use and the benefits for a number of services, including drone registration and identification, automatic flight plan validation, automatic and manual flight permissions, no fly zone creation, and conflict detection and alerting. In effect, a key result of the PODIUM project is its ability to provide agreed conclusions on maturity, and recommendations for improvements affecting regulations, standards, and deployment, all based on the evidence collected and analysed throughout the demonstration flights. Moreover, thanks to a strong emphasis on communications and awareness activities, PODIUM has shared its results and insights with a wider audience of involved stakeholders.

In the first instance, the intended impact of PODIUM will be to increase awareness, confidence and trust amongst the involved stakeholders about the operational acceptability and benefits to drone operations arising from U-space services and technologies. Thus, PODIUM can lead a deployment of U-space services and technologies that can support the handling of increasing drone traffic and complexity, in a safe, secure and flight efficient way. Ultimately, the rollout of U-space services and technologies can facilitate innovative drone related work in the fields of inspection, surveillance and delivery flights, thus leading to wider societal benefits impacting safety, security, the environment and the economy.