Unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones (or aerial drones), are progressively spreading. There are all types and sizes, fixed, rotating or convertible, capable of carrying out the most disparate missions. The flight is managed through simple apps, it is programmed to be run by the vehicle in total autonomy, while the pilot only plays a supervisory role.
Today in Italy the use of drones is regulated by the ENAC, with a regulation that will soon be integrated into European laws being drawn up; the European parliament has in fact recently assigned to EASA - the European regulator - the ownership of the legislation for aircraft below 150kg.
The national regulation - as well as the one being drafted by EASA - limits the use of these vehicles to flight at a distance of sight from the operator (VLOS - visual line of sight), therefore a few hundred meters, below 150m high, out of restricted areas, as well as away from crowds of people.
Since 2015 ENAV has started a cooperation with ENAC, to establish the technical and operational conditions capable of allowing the safe use of these vehicles in different operational scenarios. In particular their use beyond the line of sight, the flight in urban scenarios, and in perspective the autonomous flight, in connection with the European study and experimentation initiatives of the SESAR Joint Undertaking. In 2016 ENAV received an assignment from ENAC for the creation and management of an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform for the provision of services dedicated to this new class of users.
To fulfill the task assigned by ENAC (the Italian Authority for Civil Aviation), ENAV founded the company D-Flight.
The U-Space services will be gradually made accessible, over the next few years, to all drone owners through access to the D-Flight portal.
The first services available shortly through the portal:
- registration - including assignment by means of a unique code
- graphical presentation of the no-fly zones - areas where there is a ban on overflight
- electronic identification - using an electronic tag to be affixed to the drone
- drone tracking - real-time reception of its location in a central control room
- mission planning for BVLOS missions (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) - ability to plan missions beyond the visual capacity of the operator, using the tracking functions, and supporting the safety assessments of the proposed mission in relation to the possible interference
- geofencing - automatic detection of the exit from the allowed mission profile, or the entry into areas not allowed
Through these services it will become possible to fully exploit the potential of aerial drones for activities of great importance, such as infrastructure monitoring, inspections, photogrammetry, environmental surveys.
The services and the prospective scenario are described in the U-Space concept and can be found on the link https://www.sesarju.eu/u-space-blueprint