Major UTM Firms in the U.K. Partner Together To Create Open Framework

The Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) industry/systems in the U.K are moving forward with their project designed to enable the integration of drones into national airspace.

The project is in partnership with the Department For Transport (DFT) and Connected Places Catapult (CPC). It is a nine-month CPC-led project and is the second phase in the development of the UK’s open-access UTM framework, which Altitude Angel helped pioneer with CPC, in 2019. The partners will design, build and test the U.K.’s open-access Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) framework for drone operations.

By utilizing a reliable and safe UTM platform, the U.K. Government and businesses will bring to fruition the full potential of drones, thereby allowing for routine beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights.

This historic project includes numerous companies in the industry:  Wing, GE Technology’s AiRXOS, ANRA Technologies, Altitude Angel, and Raytheon’s Collins Aerospace. These will work with the U.K.’s Connected Places Catapult (CPC) to develop an open-access Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) framework for drones in the U.K. 

Connected Places explained:

“The Connected Places Catapult is bringing together a national and international consortium to develop a world leading Open- Access UTM framework for drones . . . . The project, commissioned by the Department for Transport, will continue laying the groundwork for a safe flying environment for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations in the U.K., enabling efficient sharing of airspace with manned aircraft and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations of drones.”*

Lia Reich, Marketing and Communications UTM for Wing, points out that the project shifts its approach toward its partnership with the U.K. Government. By moving the UTM framework to an open model, it makes it possible for many vendors to participate instead of working with a single provider of airspace services. This is a model that U.S., France, Switzerland, and Australia have also adopted. 

With the increase of a wide variety of enterprises and agencies developing drone operations, it becomes virtually impossible for a single vendor to provide a workable solution for all types of missions and all types of aircraft. It seems to make more sense to open the system to many vendors which will more likely result in broader and faster development. A Reich says, “This open model will be able to support the diverse operations that drones perform at low altitudes – from drone delivery to emergency response, and even air taxis in the future.”*

Mark Westwood, Connected Places Catapult CTO explains:

“The key underlying principle of the proposed UTM system is its open nature – that is, open to multiple businesses and stakeholders, between whom data can be exchanged, to foster an innovative ecosystem that encourages businesses to deliver innovative services which safely opens the airspace for the commercial and societal exploitation of drone technology.”* 

Many different stakeholders will likely be impressed if top experts from all over the world with a variety of expertise are brought into this enterprise. All of these participants have been major partners in projects developing UTM solutions all over the world for several years. Therefore, not only should this project be allowed for consideration, but it should provide a rapid beginning of the development of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) in the U.K. 

According to Amit Ganjoo, CEO and Founder of ANRA Technologies:

“The UK is rapidly becoming a global leader in advancing commercial drone technologies. We are honored to have contributed to all Connected Places Catapult Open-Access UTM Research and Development Programs and are excited to commence Phase 3 simulated and live-flight testing in pursuit of a safe, interoperable, and efficient traffic                                                                         management system for the UK airspace.”*

Reich explains:

“The paradigm for aviation will be different moving forward. We have new performance based standards, new technologies, and this requires continued collaboration between government and industry. Connected Places Catapult industry partners have been active in testing and deploying open-UTM technologies around the world and supporting the development of UTM standards. This creates a unique opportunity for CPC to leverage the experience of its project participants in Australia, France, the U.S. and others, to accelerate an open approach to UTM in the UK.”*


It is encouraging to see Europeans and others moving forward in significant ways thereby creating opportunities for companies such as CPC to leverage the experience of its project participants in various countries such as Australia, France, the U.S., and others, to accelerate an open approach to Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems as exemplified in the UK.”*

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