Tackling the challenges of airspace integration

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Regulation, technology and operations. Three areas the Future Aviation Industry Working Group on Airspace Integration (FAIWG:AI) sets out in its new problem statement.

A new problem statement published today by FAIWG:AI highlights the current restrictions of airspace integration.

FAIWG:AI was set up by the future flight challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and delivered by Innovate UK.

FAIWG:AI brings together stakeholders from industry to help provide input and insight to government strategy and regulatory policy for integrating new air vehicle types into UK airspace.

Economic and societal opportunities

With new classes of air vehicles being developed the economic and societal opportunity for the UK is growing.

However, this growth is being stifled because of existing restrictions to airspace integration.

The problem statement ‘Future Airspace Integration: Leading the World’ is designed to address the safe integration of new vehicle types into UK airspace, in particular:

  • uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) and drones
  • advanced air mobility (AAM) such as eVTOLs
  • hybrid and electrical regional aircraft.

Areas of restriction

Within the problem statement FAIWG:AI highlight three main areas of restriction and the issues that go with them:

  • regulation
  • technology
  • operations.

The issues and restrictions need to be overcome to allow new classes of air vehicle fully integrated airspace access and unlock the huge economic, societal, and environmental opportunities.

Delivering a plan

By the end of 2022, FAIWG:AI will deliver a clear, detailed and consensus-based plan to help drive the strategy and deliverables required by:

  • government
  • regulators
  • the working group
  • others.

The plan will:

  • enable the benefits of the new vehicle types to be realised in the UK
  • allow commercial services to begin no later than 2025, with a clearly defined path to sustainable growth to 2030 and beyond.

This is a vital step for the UK as it is the first time that the sector has come together with a single voice to highlight the issues facing all these new vehicle types.

Keeping pace with technology

Vicki Murdie, Innovation Lead for UKRI’s future flight challenge and Co-Chair of the FAIWG:AI, said:

The current restrictions of airspace integration are not suited to coping with these new classes of air vehicle.

Working with the Department for Transport, the Connected Places Catapult, and the Civil Aviation Authority we aim to build and deliver a strategy and plan that addresses these restrictions and allows regulation to keep pace with technology.

These emerging technologies offer exciting developments for the future of travel and logistics in the UK.

Successfully integrating an innovative and fully functioning system of remotely piloted aircraft, advanced air mobility and hybrid regional vehicles into UK airspace has huge potential benefits for society and the economy.

Further information

FAIWG:AI was set up by UKRI alongside the Department for Transport, Civil Aviation Authority and Connected Places Catapult to be the main voice for airspace integration needs of future flight vehicles.

Find out about FAIWG:AI and its members

Top image:  Credit: fizkes, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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