The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has taken a major step in the advancement of the drone industry by releasing its first set of guidelines and materials for the harmonised and safe implementation of “U-space” across the European Union. The term “U-space” refers to the management of unmanned aircraft traffic in urban and other areas to ensure their safe interaction with other entities sharing the same airspace. This is a significant development for the drone service market as it allows for more complex drone operations, including those beyond the visual line of sight in urban environments across the European airspace.
The guidelines, referred to as Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material (AMC/GM), were created through a collaboration led by EASA that involved over 30 experts and representatives from civil aviation authorities and industry. The development of the AMC/GM for the U-space regulatory framework took into account the latest advancements from the industry and U-space stakeholders, resulting in a comprehensive set of guidelines that address all aspects and actors of the U-space regulation. This will pave the way for a fair, efficient, safe, and secure implementation of U-space in Europe.
EASA’s Executive Director, Patrick Ky, highlighted the significance of this major EASA deliverable, stating that it would not have been possible without the active involvement of the European drone and aviation community. He also emphasised that the implementation of U-space airspace and services represents the first step towards the safe integration of manned and unmanned traffic in the airspace.
The formal implementation of the U-space regulatory framework took effect on January 26, 2023 with the entry into force of Regulations (EU) 2021/664, (EU) 2021/665, and (EU) 2021/666. In the near future, EASA will continue to support the implementation of U-space by certifying the first U-space airspace designations and U-space service providers. The agency will also contribute to the implementation by certifying third-party service providers intending to deliver services in Europe.
The experience gained by all the U-space stakeholders during the initial implementations will play a crucial role in further improving the first set of AMC/GM and refining the U-space regulatory framework according to the lessons learned from the first years of drone operations in the U-space. EASA is now looking forward to the next steps of the U-space implementation and the continued growth and advancement of the drone industry in Europe