Since 26 January, EU rules establishing a dedicated airspace for drones known as the U-space has become applicable, allowing operators to provide a wider range of services. The U-space creates conditions for both drones and manned aircraft to operate safely and will allow the industry to continue scaling up the market for the drone industry and services.

The new rules will notably help carry out more complex and longer-distance operations, particularly in low-level and densely operated airspace and when out of sight of the remote pilot. Such operations can cover vital services, for instance, the transport of medical samples, assistance to first responders at an emergency scene, and remote infrastructure inspections. The Commission adopted the legal framework for this unmanned traffic management system in April 2021. It is a concept unique to Europe, having been first developed in 2016, demonstrating EU leadership in this field.

The next steps will involve Member States designating their U-space areas and service providers as well as working on information exchange and navigation performance standards. These technological developments will gradually support the full implementation of the U-space by 2030, as envisioned by the Drone Strategy 2.0, and could lead to innovative air mobility services such as fully automated passenger transport services.

Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “As demonstrated in our recently adopted Drone Strategy 2.0, drones are a clear part of the future transport and logistics landscape. There is vast potential when it comes to future cargo and delivery services, as well as other innovative applications, including drone flights with passengers on board. Beginning the rollout of the U-space is an important step towards creating the functional, trusted and safe enabling environment that we need to develop a competitive EU drone services market, and I am glad to see several Member States already embarking on their projects and implementation.”

Source: European Commission