Drones will deliver groceries to your home and assist in farming and construction. These are some of the applications where developments will be brisk once European ground rules and safe airspace practices (U-space) are established for unmanned aerial vehicles. Advancements in this field are driven for instance by the need to reduce emissions from transport and logistics and by the opportunities offered by digitalisation.
The Finnish Parliament is currently debating a legislative amendment implementing EU regulations, under which airspaces for unmanned aerial vehicles, i.e. drones, may be established in Finland as of 26 January 2023. Similar legislation is being introduced in other EU Member States.
“The purpose is to coordinate manned and unmanned aviation and to facilitate drone flying in circumstances where the pilot has no direct visual contact with the drone. A huge market is opening up, as the EU expects the drone business in Europe to grow to a volume of up to EUR 14 billion by 2030. Prognoses show that more than 100,000 jobs may be created, which means that there will be substantial opportunities on the Finnish market too,” says Director Pasi Nikama from Fintraffic.
Eurocontrol, the Finnish National Technical Research Centre VTT and Fintraffic, the Finnish air navigation services provider, organised a summit in Helsinki on 26 January. The event was attended by a large number of top-level representatives from several European countries. The event included expert presentations on the European Commission’s recently published air traffic control strategy and on airspace management experiments carried out by various governments.
Eurocontrol chaired three workshops at the event, focusing on the key challenges in the field: the need for synergies between stakeholders, cyber security and operational concept.
“Drones are becoming increasingly common, and Finland must focus sufficient attention on providing lower airspace services. This calls for public investments as soon as possible, to allow the Finnish market to evolve in step with the rest of Europe. Drones must be acknowledged as a major factor in building the transport and logistics system of the future,” says Pertti Korhonen, CEO of Fintraffic.
“Through close cooperation, Finnish operators have been at the forefront of developments in Europe, helping create safe airspace management for drones,” says Ari Aalto, Vice President, Mobility and Transport at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. VTT is investing in research collaboration in this field in several national and international projects and cooperation forums. “Finland must remain an active player in order to keep up with other countries,” Aalto continues.
“Establishing airspaces for unmanned aviation is one of the most significant steps we can take towards efficient urban air transport. These solutions will open up business opportunities many of which we probably cannot even anticipate yet,” says Research Team Leader Petri Mononen from VTT.
In recent years, there have been several projects in Finland exploring the use of drones for various applications. Late in 2022, Fintraffic and VTT jointly ran a test under the Drolo project in Oulu, involving the flying of drones beyond visual contact with the aid of new digital services that will be introduced commercially at a later date. Fintraffic is currently developing a new generation of digital services that will form a basis in Finland for the coordination of manned and unmanned aviation and for commercial projects.
‘U-space’ is a system of systems designed to ensure the safe operations of any number of future aircraft, such as drones.
Pasi Nikama, Director, Fintraffic
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 040 848 2904
Petri Mononen, Research Team Leader, VTT
email@example.com, tel. 0405155808