U-SPACE and ENAIRE's role
What is U-space?
The concept of U-space refers to a set of services and procedures based on a high level of digitalisation and automation of functions aiming to provide, in a regulated and coordinated manner in Europe, safe and efficient access to airspace for a large number of unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), while also facilitating their coexistence with manned aircraft in certain airspaces.
The deployment of U-space involves new actors:
- drone operators/pilots who operate in a U-space environment by connecting to a U-space service provider.
- U-Space Service Providers (USSPs): ENAIRE and other organisations can become certified to provide U-space services to UAS operators.
- Common Information Service Providers (CISPs) that provide USSPs with the necessary information. Specifically, Spain has adopted a centralised service provision model with ENAIRE designated as the sole provider of these services.
The U-space services that may be provided are listed in the definitions section.
The safe, secure and efficient integration of UASs in airspace requires the implementation of additional specific rules and procedures with a high degree of automation and digitalisation while facilitating the free movement of UAS-related services and U-space service providers in the European Union.
The U-space regulatory package is primarily constituted by Regulation (EU) 2021/664, establishing rules and procedures for the safe operation of UASs in U-Space airspace, supplemented by two implementing regulations (Regulation (EU) 2021/665 and Regulation (EU) 2021/666) incorporating requirements and obligations for Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and manned aviation in U-space airspace and changes to Standard European Rules of the Air (SERA), respectively. This regulatory package enables EU Member States to deploy U-space and make a decisive step forward in the provision of UAS services and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in Europe. It entered into force on 26 January 2023.
The Spanish Government, through the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (MITMA), has developed a National Action Plan for the Deployment of U-Space (PANDU) to promote the deployment of the system and the implementation of U-space services at the national level in an efficient and orderly manner with the involvement and coordination of all stakeholders. This portal has been enabled for U-space coordination in Spain. Its objectives include the publication of the first U-space airspace, an initiative in which MITMA is collaborating with AESA (Spanish Aviation Safety and Security Agency), ENAIRE, the Ministry of Defence, Airport Managers, Air Traffic Service Providers (ATSPs) and other national, regional and local administrations.
ENAIRE's role in U-space
ENAIRE, a public business entity attached to the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (mitma.gob.es) (MITMA), will serve as the sole common information service provider (CISP), playing a pivotal role in the development of the necessary platforms and technology to provide these services nationwide. It will also become a U-space service provider (USSP) for specific public sector activities.
Development of the U-Space Platform
ENAIRE is currently working on the deployment of UAS services to establish a digital U-space system that supports UAS operation and promotes the development of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) with electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles, also known as air taxis.
For this purpose, the company is developing a U-space platform compatible with its existing air navigation platforms, through which it can become certified to act as both a CISP and USSP (U-Space Service Provider).
- CISP role: we will deploy our CIS platform to meet U-space operational needs related to common information services, enabling any other USSP to connect.
- Role USSP: we will also operate our digital USSP platform to provide U-space services for UAS operators in U-space and its compatibility with our CIS platform, with the possibility of future coexistence with other USSPs.
U-space interaction with manned aircraft
U-space interaction with manned aircraft is approached differently depending on whether the interaction occurs in controlled or uncontrolled airspace.
- In controlled airspace, the Air Traffic Control Service Provider is responsible for coordinating the entry of a manned aircraft into U-space through the concept of DAR (Dynamic Airspace Reconfiguration), which is the temporary modification of a defined U-space in controlled airspace, whether partially or entirely, to accommodate short-term changes in manned traffic demand.
- In uncontrolled airspace, where no ATC service is received from the ANSP, manned aircraft must be made electronically visible to the USSP (via an electronic conspicuity system) by being equipped with any device approved by the U-space regulation (ADS-B, FLARM, Network ID, etc.).
For more information, please see the following links:
- ENAIRE's video on U-space
- European U-space regulations
- National Action Plan for the Deployment of U-space (PANDU)
- Portal for U-space coordination in Spain
- AESA U-space web page
U-space airspace: the UAS geographical area designated by the EU Member States where only UAS operations supported by U-space services are permitted.
Common Information Service (CIS): a service designed to disseminate static and dynamic data to enable the provision of U-space services for the management of UAS traffic.
Common Information Service Provider (CISP): it is responsible for making available and facilitating the exchange of common information from the Competent Authority, ANSP and USSP with clients.
U-Space Service Provider (USSP): it is responsible for providing UAS operators with U-space services during all operational phases carried out in U-space airspace. USSPs are supported by common information through the CISP.
U-space services: digital and automated services of functions designed to facilitate safe, efficient and secure access to U-space airspace for a large number of UAS. These services are provided by USSPs to UAS operators. The U-space services offered by the USSPs are listed below, categorised as mandatory and optional.
- Network identification service: it is responsible for identifying and providing identification of all UASs, as well as their position in U-space.
- Geo-awareness service: it provides information on the operational conditions and airspace limitations applicable within U-space airspace. This service aims to provide the operator with an overview of the flying environment, facilitating flying and aiding safe and efficient flight operations while observing existing requirements and limitations.
- UAS Flight Authorisation Service: it is responsible for authorising UAS operations, ensuring that activities in any given U-space volume are conflict-free with respect to other drones and UAS areas.
- Traffic Information Service: it provides traffic information from other UAS and manned aircraft operating in the vicinity of the UAS concerned.
- Weather Information Service: it provides real-time weather forecasts and information from trusted sources before and during a flight.
- Compliance Monitoring Service: it checks compliance with established requirements and UAS flight authorisation terms and conditions.