The growth in the use of drones for commercial and recreational purposes presents both huge opportunities and significant challenges. Safely integrating a new class of airspace user in to our already busy skies requires careful planning and strong cooperation across different industries and between different actors.
This paper sets out the critical role that the A6 Alliance believes Air Navigation Service Providers have to play in safely integrating the European Commission’s ‘U-space’ initiative with Europe’s existing manned aviation to preserve the existing levels of safety.
This role will not be the same as it is in today’s air traffic management system, nor should it be. ANSPs are aware that it will require new ways of working, new partnerships and new attitudes but equally, it should build on the significant experience that ANSPs have accumulated in managing busy, complex airspace and contributing to industry-leading safety performance. It is only by working together that the two industries – manned and unmanned – will safely and sustainably continue to flourish.
There is a strong rationale for ANSPs to provide some essential services on which downstream U-space services can develop. ANSPs already have the appropriate safety, airspace and traffic management responsibilities, capabilities and culture. Furthermore, many ANSPs are already implementing key U-space functions through partnerships with drone technology providers, which demonstrates the growing collaboration between these sectors and the fact that an open and competitive environment can still underpin elements of the essential services.