The Global UTM Association (GUTMA) has released a new position paper discussing the next steps to build the drone service ecosystem. 

The paper begins by considering how drones can become an integral part of wider EU policy agendas through 2024. Examples of possible areas of correlation are the European Green Deal, a Europe fit for the digital age and a Europe that works for people. The vision is that drones can promote sustainable aviation while opening new economic opportunities for transporting cargos and individuals.

GUTMA sees three different markets emerging as the industry moves ahead:

The U-space service market: Focusing on automation, longer distance (BVLOS) drone operations and services providers.

The drone operations market: Considers drones as a part of the wider value chain in transportation of cargo and passengers and enables organisations to offer services within this framework.

The drone services market: This is where it all comes together with services that are offered to end user customers to help enable their business activities. For example – agriculture, data gathering, construction, remote inspections, public safety and security.

What’s agreed is that without U-space these concepts for the future cannot be scalable and fit within the regulatory requirements for safe drone operation. The U-space framework looks across topics such as institutional requirements, service provisioning and launch, inclusion with manned aircraft in our shared airspace and interoperability between different providers and airspace users.

Within the implementation of U-space there needs to the opportunity to promote successful competition and therefore innovation. This market cannot be led by traditional aviation organisations that tend to move over longer periods of time. This market is evolving swiftly and must continue to do so. Automation is key to achieving these goals.

Data is a key success factor for the drone services ecosystem to succeed. Big data analytics is a solution that will play a role in this wider economy. Data-driven business development for both the demand and supply side of the market with create opportunities for new revenue streams.

The three markets highlighted previously are interrelated and need to have a framework that crosses all three topics from an investment and governance perspective. As these markets evolve, they need to consider topics such as the environmental impact of their solutions, data protection and privacy, transparency within the user community, security and fair airspace access.

In the report GUTMA proposes a list of concrete governance, regulation and financing actions.