CleanTechnica recently broke down Airbus’ approach to how future air traffic airspace management systems (UTM) will function, and what mechanics will drive their safety. Airbus’ initiative is called Altiscope. According to Airbus, here’s what a vertical sliver of airspace will look like in 2030:
- From 200 to 400 ft in the US, the airspace will mostly be for imaging and analytics — think personal drones.
- Higher up, 0 to 1000 ft, is the airspace mostly used by delivery platforms, such as the Airbus Aerial and other air taxi services.
- From 200 to 1200 ft is that of light electric aircraft making speedy deliveries.
- 1000 to 3000 ft is for the Uber Elevate, Airbus Voom, and other faster, further electric air mobility services.
- Within the 500 to 5000 ft arena are Bell helicopters, Sikorski, and Airbus General Aviation (GA) aircraft. This airspace is really for private, non-commercial flight, whether high-performance business jets, medical transports, gliders, or flight trainers.
“Where things get complicated are in the airspace that requires a few hundred feet to 60,000 and above. Those categories encroach on each other and will require constant reviewing.”
Airbus currently uses NASA’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) for airspace coordination.
The European counterpart of NASA’s UTM system is the SESAR Joint Undertaking; endorsed by the European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc. SESAR opens the continental market for drone services and aircraft.
Why it’s important: This airspace management system is not completely revolutionary, nor will it have any effects on a user of eVTOL transportation systems – the beauty of the solution is its apparent non-existence. Once implemented fully, UTM systems will allow for users to have an uneventful, traffic incursion free flight every time – and they’ll hardly know that there’s a system working extremely hard to ensure that every flight is as uneventful as the next. The framework for these systems is being laid by many different companies around the world, and while it might not be as spark-generating as new aircraft concepts, it is as much, if not more, of a necessity for successful eVTOL operations.
Airbus’ blog on UTM is available here.