How do the new entrants to our airspace (UAV, UAM, commercial space) impact airspace management and more specifically ATM in the future?
My vision for the future is that small drones will be able to fly 100% in an automated fashion without the need for air traffic control intervention. These automated drones are basically robots and shouldn’t require ATCO management, this needs to be done by machines. Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is a different topic though. These aircraft will be traveling within controlled airspace and should have a concept to control them. Regardless of whether the pilot is on board or in a remote location there should be interaction with the ATCOs, similar to commercial aircraft. The only difference is that the ‘pilot’ might not actually be onboard. This challenge is still in the future and won’t likely be resolved until closer to 2030.
What are the top 3 challenges for the European airspace?
- To define an operational concept for new vehicles in our airspace
- Digitisation of the infrastructure with appropriate levels of cybersecurity and resilience
- Need alternatives to GNSS and GPS for navigation that are more resilient to outside influences
How should we think about cyber-resilience looking ahead?
Cyber-risk is a key topic. Aircrafts need to be certified to be cyber-risk free in an evolving concept. If a plane is in service for 30 years, the cyber risks on the day it goes into service will change during those 30 years, so a certification on day one doesn’t necessarily mean anything 15 years later. New risks might not only impact the airframe, but the entire supply chain associated with an aircraft. Airlines and OEMs are pretty secure, but the maintenance side is not. As aircraft become more digital and share data with ATC there are new risks to be considered. Cyber risk analysis and certification throughout the entire supply chain should be mandated.
What technology do you see playing a role in managing airspace going forward?
Digtisation is key. Pilots and ATCOs cannot communicate without sharing data via a ‘digital link’. Other technologies that are interesting for the future include artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain.