EUROCONTROL Taps Airbus UTM’s Digital Twin to Improve The Safety and Performance of U-Space Operations in Europe

In June, Airbus UTM signed a memorandum of cooperation with EUROCONTROL (ECTL) to collaborate on the simulation of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM). EUROCONTROL is a pan-European, civil-military organization dedicated to supporting European aviation through research, development, operations and performance monitoring.

Aligning closely with Airbus UTM and Acubed’s goals, ECTL aims to create a safer and more efficient airspace. In this collaboration, our efforts will focus on modeling, simulation and analysis to accelerate the operationalization of U-Space operations in Europe. U-Space is a regulatory framework including a set of digital services aimed to facilitate large-scale safe, efficient and secure access to airspace for drones. When U-Space goes into effect in 2023, it is expected to unlock advanced operational use cases and markets such as beyond visual line of sight operations.

Part of ECTL’s role is to support Member States in meeting the required U-Space regulation, and the organization has been developing methods for airspace assessment to ensure U-Space areas do not compromise the safety of our current air traffic system. These airspace assessments evaluate ground risk and air risk to manned aviation, however additional tools are required to assess the risk of drone-to-drone encounters. Without simulation, unmanned air risk is challenging to assess, which is where the Airbus UTM digital twin comes into play.

The Airbus UTM digital twin helps stakeholders visualize and quantify the safety of specific traffic scenarios and U-Space implementations in simulation, allowing the rapid evaluation of the future airspace under a variety of preconditions. An aim of this collaboration is to provide the Member States and other industry partners a framework and mechanism to quantify, analyze and illustrate U-Space.

This work follows the completion of a proof of concept UTM simulation capability for U-Space that the Airbus UTM team developed in 2021. Related research that Airbus UTM conducted with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab helped fill a critical safety gap in UTM and illustrates the importance of simulation in the validation and verification of UTM performance requirements in the operationalizing of UTM.

As we look to the future of flight, industry and regulatory bodies need to plan and prepare for increasingly complex airspace that serves a broad spectrum of stakeholders and accommodates a diverse range of aircraft. The aerospace industry is reaching a pivotal point with the entry of new stakeholders and technologies that suggest anything is possible. The collaboration between Airbus UTM and ECTL is taking innovation to new heights, creating an environment to evaluate high-risk conditions and generate large quantities of statistically significant data to explore a vast array of scenarios quickly and cost-effectively. Most importantly, this comprehensive approach provides the ability to ensure preparedness with safety and efficiency at the forefront as we build digital air traffic management solutions that will enable the next generation of aviation.

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