Thales and Unifly Respond to the Drone Industry’s Need for a UTM System

On the heels of an agreement between DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung and Unifly NV to work together to develop and market a DFS drone app comes news of another partnership for Unifly. Thales Group and Unifly have announced they are partnering to create safer flights with the new solution for Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management (UTM), the ECOsystem UTM.

Thales designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security industries. In 2016, Thales launched the ECOsystem, a platform that gathers flight, weather and airspace data, as well as airline, airport & ATC constraints, to enable ANSPs, airlines and airport operators to plan, monitor, manage and assess aviation operations for better decisions and better results.

ECOsystem’s first application was created to manage air traffic flow, but it did not support Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). With the fast growth of the drone industry, the need for a similar management platform is clear. This kind of system can help in many different respects, which include beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations as well as ensuring an type of drone flight is that much safe for everyone.

Unifly already owns a UTM system, UniflyUTM which contains validation engine software that uses geographically linked data to determine a flight’s safety in real-time. It provides information such as the position of the drone, airspace, local legislation, no-drone zones, geo-fenced areas, weather, obstacles, roads, as well as other manned and unmanned traffic.

The companies will work together to focus on ECOsystem’s second application, ECOsystem UTM. This platform will feature drone registration, pilot registration, flight planning, and regulatory/business rules with geospatial and meteorological information to enable adaptable workflows for managing drone operations as well as customizable situational awareness using tools such as map overlays, terrain views and 3D projections. It will also enable automated flight authorizations as well as real-time alerting and intervention in emergency situations

“The number of drones is growing exponentially,” said Unifly Chief Executive Officer, Marc Kegelaers. “Safely integrating such a large number of drones in the airspace is a challenge. This will require a UTM system that provides a high level of automation as well as a seamless integration into the world of ATM. Thales and Unifly will collaborate to achieve just that.”

Both companies will be looking for UTM business opportunities around the world.


About the Author

Technology in general makes João Antunes tick, but the specific ways it has created and changed the landscape in IT, gaming and computers ignited curiosity that’s turned into a passion for him. As the son of a journalist writing about how these industries have emerged and evolved, he has an incredible perspective when it comes to understanding the kind of disruption new technologies can create in a given space. He’s committed to showcasing what that disruption will mean for professionals as they work to utilize brand new pieces of hardware, software, systems and processes.

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