Drones into civil airspace: New call for research projects

EU funding opportunities

A call for exploratory research projects on the integration of drones into civil airspace has been launched  under the SESAR 2020 research and innovation programme.

The SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) launched, under the framework of the SESAR 2020 research and innovation programme, a call for exploratory research projects on the integration of drones into civil airspace.

In particular, the call is intended to inspire initial solutions for drone traffic management, which would support the sharing of airspace between manned and unmanned systems. The technical specifications of this call for proposals were established in close collaboration with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

What is SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU)?

Created under Article 171 of the Treaty establishing the European Union, the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU),aims to develop a modernised air traffic management system for Europe, able to prevent crippling congestion of the European sky and reduce the environmental impact of air transport. The SJU will therefore coordinate and concentrate all relevant research and development efforts undertaken by its members.

The SJU is in charge of implementing the ATM Master Plan, as well as of carrying out specific activities aimed at developing the new generation air traffic management system capable of ensuring the safety and fluidity of air transport worldwide over the next thirty years.

The purpose of the call and the allocated funds

There is significant potential in Europe for the growing market of drones. However, the development of this industry depends on the ability of drones to operate in all areas of airspace, as well as at very low levels. to In order to safely unlock growth for this sector, it is then mandatory to stimulate research and innovation in relation to the traffic management of drone operations.

Successful projects are expected to address the key research questions regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in the very low level (VLL). The project should also include beyond visual line of sight (B-VLOS) operations, as well as visual flight rules (VFR) environments.

The Agency will consider, where appropriate, the results of the awarded project for its future activities in that domain. A total of 9 million euro is assigned for the research from the EU’s Horizon 2020 budget.

More information on this call can be found on the EU Research & Innovation Participant Portal.

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