At Commercial UAV Expo Europe, a number of important topics like the Lessons Learned from Inspecting More than 1000 Bridges as well as What’s Ahead for Surveying & Mapping were explored in detail, but it was the session focused on the Global UTM and U-Space that particularly caught our eye. While the logistics around how operators are actually using drone technology to impact their business will always be a priority, it’s incredibly important to define when and how these systems will come together.

Just before the start of the Expo, the European Commission issued a press release announcing that the Single European Sky Air Traffic joint undertaking (SESAR) released a blueprint around their future plans. Designed to open the doors to the development of a strong and dynamic EU drone services market across Europe as a whole, the announcement served as a nice backdrop to the topics the presenters talked through.

Marc Kegelaers from UniFly, Sebastian Babiarz from AirMap, Ulrich Hoffmann from Lufthansa Technik AG and Jon Hegranes from Kittyhawk all presented during the Global UTM/U-Space: Information & Planning for the Commercial Operator session, and each approaches the issue from a slightly different perspective. The way in which automation will be part of this UAS traffic management (UTM) system is critical, but exactly what that will mean is a topic all four dealt with in different ways.

Sebastian Barbiarz

Sebastian Babiarz

When we connected with Babiarz to discuss what kind of an impact a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system will have on the industry, he referenced the bridge that needs to be built between the technology and various industries. Ultimately, that bridge is going to be built on communication between stakeholders in various capacities, which will in turn influence the creation of standards. There is a clear need for standards when it comes to figuring out how networks and regulations need to function, and the only way those standards can come together is through communication.

That communication can and will be taken to another level within a Global UTM system though, since the communication between drones and people and systems is a core function of any UTM. Integrating drones into the airspace in Europe and across the world with a UTM system isn’t going to be simple, but it’s something that will help unlock the true potential of the technology.

UniFly, AirMap, Lufthansa Technik AG and Kittyhawk are just some of the organizations that are having these critical conversations, and others from inside and outside of the drone industry will need to join them in order to define what this system looks like and create a true timetable around when it will be created. It’s impossible to predict the ultimate form this UTM will take, but conversations that are happening right now represent a critical phase of this process. That’s part of the reason more people from across various industries need to take part in the conversations that are happening right now.


From left to right, Jon Hegranes from Kittyhawk, Sebastian Babiarz from AirMap, Marc Kegelaers from UniFly, Ulrich Hoffmann from Lufthansa Technik AG and Olivier Fontaine from Spritalia