Sesar Joint Undertaking Issues Call for RPAS Demonstrations

 - February 18, 2013, 5:17 PM

The Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SJU) has issued a call for proposals from industry to participate in remotely piloted air system (RPAS) demonstration activities. The Brussels-based entity managing the development phase of the Single European Sky effort plans to select and co-finance about 10 demonstration projects leading to the introduction of RPAS in non-segregated airspace by 2016.

The call for proposals, issued on February 7, states that demonstration activities will be conducted in European Union or Eurocontrol member states and cover various types and sizes of RPAS. The SJU has earmarked €4 million ($5.35 million) for the effort and expects to award 10 co-financing agreements with up to €500,000 per agreement, or 50 percent of the total estimated project cost.

The deadline for submitting proposals to the SJU is April 19. Award notifications will be made in mid-May, with projects starting in June. Demonstrations will be conducted from the third quarter this year to the first quarter of 2015.

Last year, the European Commission created an RPAS steering group that produced a research and development “roadmap” aiming for initial RPAS integration by 2016 into non-segregated airspace “at European scale.” According to the SJU: “Until now, a piecemeal approach to the integration of RPAS in non-segregated airspace has taken place, with different uncoordinated activities in several European countries. The R&D roadmap has clearly identified the need and demonstrated the added value to establish a set of demonstration activities at flight test centers and centers of excellence with access to the required relevant airspace.”

Similarly in the U.S., Congress has directed the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a plan by September 2015 to integrate unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system, and to select six test ranges. The FAA issued a screening information request for proposals to operate the test ranges on February 14.