The challenges inherent in Unmanned Aircraft System
Traffic Management (UTM) are many and complex. Attendees of WING’s part one
of a two-part seminar entitled, “How Do We Share the Sky?” were treated to a
very informative hour of getting to better understand these challenges, and how
two governments have initially addressed them.
Head of UTM for WING served as moderator for this first seminar. He opened the
conversation with clarifying that, “...at WING we are excited to empower
everyone to safely access the sky, and that “everyone” means working with other
providers...working beyond just ourselves and our systems.” Negron played short
videos which presented both theoretical and actual scenarios that served to
illustrate the issues faced by both regulators of and operators in coordinated,
multi-user/multi-platform UTM. From this
foundation, Negron then brought his two guest speakers into the conversation. Sharon Marshall-Keefe of Australia’s
Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA’s) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System
(RPAS) joined the seminar via a live video connection, and Antoine Martin, Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA), the ATM agency within France’s
Civil Aviation Authority, joined Negron on the stage.
Both guests provided frank and informative backgrounds in
how their governmental agencies had initially addressed the UTM issue. “I’d like to say that we had the foresight to
move straight into an industry model...we didn’t,” admitted CASA’s Sharon
Marshall-Keefe. Initially, CASA had developed and provided its own drone app.
“The truth is we are a regulator, not an app developer.” CASA quickly
recognized the need to focus on verifying third-party drone safety apps instead
of using their own.
“In 2012 it was possible to fly a drone almost anywhere
in France,” stated Antoine Martin, “But the rules were very complex. At some
point, we ended up with a couple of solutions...legacy/proprietary solutions.
We asked ourselves, ‘do we continue building UTM solutions at the scale of
France?’ The answer was both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.” To the affirmative, Martin
confirmed the need for the France’s involvement to ensure safe operations which
allow operators to access the efficient ways to interact with each other. “But
is it our job?” asked Martin, “No. We are not a service provider.” Like their
Australian counterpart, the French government understood that the best way
forward was for them to work with third-party UTM service providers.
After describing their initial experiences, Negron then
asked his guests to share what they had learned. Both speakers adamantly agreed
that identifying the right tech was the easy part, the harder issue was more
one of trust. “Trust of tech, and to learn how to all use it together,” Martin agreed.
Getting all involved parties – defence, police and other related agencies – to
nteract is a key need. Marshall-Keefe
admitted her surprise in finding UTM service providers so open to collaboration
and provide solutions with fellow providers.
Having laid the foundation through this illuminating
discussion of the past and current UTM experiences, and Part 2 of “How Do We
Share the Sky?” will be held today at 16.45 in the Wing ATM Theater, and will
review both current regulatory needs and upcoming safety benefits delivered by