The SESAR Joint Undertaking has launched a call for exploratory research projects on the integration of drones into civil airspace within the framework of the SESAR 2020 research and innovation programme. Specifically, the call aims to stimulate initial solutions for drone traffic management, supporting the sharing of airspace between manned and unmanned systems. A total of EUR 9 million is earmarked for the research from the EU’s Horizon 2020 budget.
The growing drone market shows significant potential for Europe. However, the development of the drone industry is dependent on the ability of drones to operate in all areas of airspace, including at very low levels. Stimulating research and innovation in this domain and in relation to the traffic management of drone operations is therefore a "must-have" to safely unlock this growth.
The projects to be funded under this call are expected to address the key research questions impacting the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in the very low level (VLL), including beyond visual line of sight (B-VLOS) operations, as well as visual flight rules (VFR) environments.
The technical specifications of this call for proposals were established in close collaboration with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The Agency will consider, where appropriate, the results of the awarded project for its future activities in that domain.