A new report from Connected Places Catapult has been completed following live trials for an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) solution that opens up the possibility to allow commercial drone usage in the UK alongside traditional human-crewed aircraft.

The report results from a three-year-long Department for Transport (DfT) sponsored project, working alongside industry partners; NATS, Altitude Angel, ANRA Technologies, Cirium, Cranfield University, the Satellite Applications Catapult, Thales UK, WING, GE (AiRXOS), Collins Aerospace and Skylift. Through this programme, the UK is at the forefront of UTM innovation and a step closer to enabling commercial UTM operations within UK airspace. Adopting the Open-Access UTM Framework as the starting point for future UTM initiatives will allow projects to include those funded via UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge to build upon the development to date and accelerate future advances UTM.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) adoption, otherwise known as drones, can deliver substantial economic benefits through a range of new applications and business models. UTM will be required to unlock these benefits and provide safe and routine coordination of UAS as we move to increasingly automated and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations.

In collaboration with the DfT, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and industry stakeholders, Connected Places Catapult has developed a national UTM framework called the Open-Access UTM. This programme has successfully progressed Open-Access UTM from concept through to live field trials, demonstrating how UTM could deliver air traffic management services in the future.

Mark Westwood, Chief Technology Officer, Connected Places Catapult, explained:

‘The project has laid the foundations for a national UTM deployment. Through collaboration with industry stakeholders, the trials demonstrated how UTM supports multiple drone operations in real-world scenarios. Connected Places Catapult are proud to be at the forefront of such an integral project shaping the development of commercial drone use in the UK.’

Source: Connected Places Catapult