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Enabling Unmanned Traffic Management in the UK

Making the conceptual UTM framework a reality

As we move towards an increasingly automated future, the potential drone technology offers increases exponentially – from delivery services to inspection of infrastructure, highways and construction; the sheer breadth of use cases is remarkable. However, for these applications to operate in a safe and routine manner in increasingly complex environments and in close proximity of congested airspace, requires the integration of unmanned traffic management (UTM).

In the precursor to this new report (‘Towards a UTM system for the UK’ – September 2019) we put forward a conceptual framework for a national UTM infrastructure and laid out the rationale for why a UTM framework is required, along with several basic principles to be followed in order to leverage its benefits. UTM addresses an existing gap in the infrastructure required to enable the market by delivering on a number of airspace integration requirements for successful operations of drones:

  • Collaborative strategic deconfliction
  • Well-defined and known airspace environment for situation awareness • Tactical deconfliction and separation
  • Geofencing and restricted zones
  • Flexibility in the use of very low-level airspace

As a result of that work, Connected Places Catapult convened a more detailed development of open-access UTM to help inform and support the government’s objectives of creating a shared and integrated airspace for all legitimate users. Crucially, this work brought together expertise from UTM research initiatives in the UK, USA and Europe to help develop the different capability areas of the framework and maintain alignment with these initiatives.

Enabling Unmanned Traffic Management: developing and formalising the framework

This open-access UTM research programme was led by the Catapult with the aim of engaging with UTM stakeholders and the wider unmanned aircraft system community to develop and formalise the framework, and define the future direction around which industry and regulators can openly engage with each other to explore how UTM may be trialled, de-risked and matured.

This report, ‘Enabling Unmanned Traffic Management in the UK’, provides an overview of the progress made over the last year together with recommendations to government, the Civil Aviation Authority and industry. The document informs on the UTM research being conducted rather than present a blueprint for a UTM system. It aims to address information gaps and enable informed discussions and engagements.

Read the full report below.


Read the 'Enabling Unmanned Traffic Management in the UK' report here