January 26th, here’s U-space!

What’s Going On Here?

A new UAS regulation will go into effect on 26 January 2023 and will introduce new guidelines for drone operations in the EU. The previously designated very low-level airspace (from 0 m to 150 m above ground) will now be called “U-space airspace” where drones will only be able to fly if drone pilots rely on traffic services provided by U-space service providers (USSP).

What Does This Mean?

European Members States will now designate – based on a risk assessment – certain UAS geographical zones (aka geo-zones) as various ‘U-space airspaces’. U-space airspace will become a new kind of geo-zone that will be better organised to welcome and facilitate drone operations. Within these new geo-zones, certified U-space service providers will become responsible for guaranteeing the safety of unmanned aircraft. How? By providing traffic services to drone operators and by coordinating drone operations with the Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), which is responsible for managing manned air traffic operations. Operational data exchanges between USSPs and the ANSP will be ensured by the Common Information Service Provider (CISP).

What’s The Plan In Belgium?

In Belgium, the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA), Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), skeyes, and other leading actors in the emerging Drone Ecosystem such as SkeyDrone and Unifly, have joined forces (in a project called ‘BURDI’) to unravel this U-space regulatory framework, implement U-space airspace in several existing geo-zones (such as the seaport of Antwerp and controlled airspaces surrounding public aerodromes) and put a Belgian U-space system into operation. Prominent roles will be taken up by both skeyes (becoming the Belgian CISP) and SkeyDrone (as one of the first certified USSPs in Europe).

The BURDI project will result in the first operational U-space geo-zones in Belgium somewhere between July 2023 and June 2024…

Why Should I Care?

The bigger picture! Large-scale commercial drone operations need this regulatory framework to thrive. Today almost no drone business is surviving while the expectations and predictions made by the (big four) consultancy houses were to expect explosive growth in this promising drone services industry.

The Belgian Drone market today, however, shows a small and independent operator-oriented marketplace hesitant to invest in any technology, as many commercial drone operators continue struggling to get an Operational Authorisation allowing them to fly! If we are not able to unlock this market today, we will risk missing the historical chance of playing any part in this emerging market altogether! We need U-space and we need it now!

SkeyDrone’s role in this? SkeyDrone today is a technology integrator that helps Drone Operators take for the sky in a safe and scalable way! Tomorrow, as a U-Space service provider, SkeyDrone will provide in multiple mandatory and value-added U-Space Services that will allow drone operators seamless access to commercially valuable airspaces.

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