(Brussels, Belgium, December 3, 2007) -- EUROCONTROL has published air traffic management (ATM) specifications that set out how military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) should fly in European airspace.
When military UAVs operate outside specifically designated areas they are subject to numerous restrictions to ensure the safety of other airspace users. However these restrictions are preventing the full use of UAVs' unique operational capabilities. In 2003, a pan-European high-level military conference asked EUROCONTROL to develop an ATM framework that would allow UAVs to operate in all classes of airspace and across national borders. Following a safety assurance process and public consultation, EUROCONTROL has now published the EUROCONTROL Specifications for Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as Operational Air Traffic Outside Segregated Airspace.
"Safety of all users of the airspace is paramount," said Mr Mike Strong of EUROCONTROL, Chairman of the EUROCONTROL UAV-OAT Task Force. "These new specifications ensure that UAV operations will be carried out with the same level of safety as for manned aircraft. Nothing else would be acceptable. And the military will be able to undertake the training necessary for the safe conduct of UAV operations at home and abroad."
However, before military UAVs will be allowed to fly routinely outside segregated airspace, additional technology such as sense-and-avoid needs to be developed. It will also be necessary to do additional work in a range of other fields including airworthiness, security and operator training. Once these issues have been addressed, the Specifications will ensure that ATM procedures for UAVs mirror those applicable to manned aircraft, and the provision of air traffic services to UAVs will be transparent to ATC controllers.
"Though the specifications are not mandatory we hope that a substantial number of States will choose to incorporate them into their national regulations. If they do so, it will be a significant contribution towards harmonizing air traffic management for military UAVs outside segregated airspace - something which is not the case at present," Mr Strong added.