On September 12 and 13, 2023, different scenarios were tested at the Estonian Aviation Academy to validate the uncrewed aircraft systems test facility built by ANRA Technologies as commissioned by the Estonian Transport Administration.
“The working group’s activities reached another very important phase as we tested the performance of the U-space services and made test flights,” said Priit Rifk, Head of the Unmanned Aviation Department at the Estonian Transport Administration.
The U-space Service Provider and Common Information Service Provider is ANRA Technologies and the uncrewed aircraft operator is the Estonian Aviation Academy. “Testing and validation play an important role, as it allows us to try out the different scenarios that will appear in U-space in the future,” Rifk added. “As a result of the testing, we hope to obtain the necessary input for the validation and certification of the U-space service providers.”
Maria Tamm, Unmanned Aerial Systems Team Lead at the Estonian Aviation Academy, considers the testing a success: “The testing of the systems developed by ANRA revealed a number of regulatory and technical challenges for the implementation of the U-space. This will help us to better focus our efforts in the near future, so that the unmanned aviation sector gets the boost it needs to develop.”
The test stage will be completed at the end of September, after which the test facility will be set up. “The results of the technical tests currently being conducted will be analyzed by both the Aviation Academy and the Transport Administration, and only on this basis will it be possible to establish a subsequent roadmap regarding the volume and shape of the created test facility,” Tamm said.
“This has been a terrific private-public collaboration for providing the foundation for credible U-space activities,” stated Amit Ganjoo, Founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies. “ANRA's support of Estonia’s innovative approach for launching U-space services culminated in a successful delivery of a sandbox that is a major step for establishing commercial U-space services.”
The role of the operator of the test facility and the coordinator of further development will remain with the Estonian Aviation Academy, but the particulars and the speed of further development of the test facility will depend primarily on the cooperation of the various service providers and the coordination of development activities.
The project is the first part of a wider long-term effort to deploy uncrewed air traffic services in line with the European Commission’s Implementing Regulation 664/2021. The new uncrewed aviation test facility is designed to provide digital services to drone operators who will fly in U-space in the future.
Kaili Ojamets, Head of the Department of Business Development of the Tartu City Government, said that the test site supports the ambition of the city of Tartu to be among the first ones in Europe to use public drone services and develop them further.
The participants in the project are the Estonian Transport Administration, the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency, ANRA Technologies, the Estonian Aviation Academy, Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS, the Ministry of Climate, the City of Tartu and Tartu Science Park. The cooperation project “Expertise for the development of the uncrewed aviation test facility (U-space sandbox)” is funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014–2020.