Large-scale UAV tests in the Baltic States

This summer various scenarios for the drones use are being tested in Estonia and Finland: from joint flights with manned aircraft and cargo delivery to air taxi flights with people on board.
OCTOBER, 1 / 2019 / 5 MINUTES
Фото вышки в Örnsköldsvik
The SESAR GOF (Gulf of Finland) program is one of six U-Space demonstrations that will be held in different parts of Europe over the next year. The goal is to demonstrate the ability to control a wide range of UAV operations, as well as to work out the UAVs and manned aircraft interoperability.
Flight program
Joint UAVs, general aviation and gliders flights; controlled airspace operations; urban flights; search and rescue operations over the Gulf of Finland; international delivery of goods; long-distance flights; air taxi flights.
Large industrial organizations took part in various stages of the project, including: Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS), ANS Finland, Robots Expert, Frequentis, Altitude Angel Limited, AirMap, Avartek, BVdrone, as well as the border services and police of both countries.
Under airplane’s wing
Joint flights of drones and manned aircraft at the Pyhtää airfield in Finland were one of the first and most interesting stages of the program.

The light Cessna 172 aircraft took a joint flight with two drones and three radio-controlled models. The 4G mobile communications were used to transmit situational awareness data, at altitudes of up to 2,000 feet (about 600 m). ADS-B 1090ES and FLARM equipment was also used to track air traffic. FLARM works according to principles similar to ADS-B; however, it is intended for small helicopters, hang gliders or gliders. Below is a fragment of the GOF architecture, where the role of ADS-B, FLARM and 4G in drone’s data transmitting is clearly visible.
The UAV’s flights in Tallinn’s controlled airspace are another significant part of the program.

One of the scenarios simulated a traffic accident around which a no-fly zone was created. Procedures to create a restriction zone, to monitor compliance with its borders, as well as remote drones identification were being practiced during the demonstration. Only one police drone had access to the zone, and the rest of the UAVs were remotely identified and warned of the need to land immediately.

A special significance of a single information exchange platform, which would bring together various UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) service providers, was confirmed, according to the demonstration’s results.
Over the gulf
The GOF program is also distinguished by the fact that two countries are involved in it at once, and part of the flights is performed over the Gulf of Finland.
More recently, this test block was successfully completed on August 22. Flights over the Gulf of Finland have become one of the most extensive stages of the UTM testing. During the tests, a 90-kilometer flight was carried out from Estonia to Finland. 19 companies contributed to this mission at once, and Unity, Frequentis and Airmap technologies were used for management.
Air taxi
The final and the most ambitious part of the program was realized on August 29: a sign flight of an air taxi with a man on board at Helsinki Airport. For these purposes, Volocopter air taxi was used, which we wrote about in a recent issue of the digest.
According to the tests' results, the authorities of the countries turned to mobile operators with a request to take a greater part in the specialized solutions development.
Jonas Sternberg, Executive Vice President of Robots Expert, emphasized the important role of the interoperability between the unmanned aerial vehicle air traffic control systems and the traditional ATM system.
"he problem is that the traditional ATM system does not use the digital messaging / information exchange technologies fully yet. For many tasks, traditional radio communication is used, which was used during World War II. When it comes to modern UAV flights, this approach will no longer work."
— emphasizes Jonas Sternberg.
Drones are already becoming a reality in urban areas of Finland, in addition to local projects, global ones are developing here, for example, Wing from Google.
At the heart of the system
One of the reports separately discussed the role of FIMS in interacting with ATM.
In conclusion, it is worth highlighting the role of a single information exchange system — FIMS (flight information management system). FIMS is the link without which effective interaction between all participants is impossible.

FIMS is used to transfer data between: UAVs; U-Space service providers; ATM services. The transmitted data includes air traffic information, flight plans, aeronautical information and so on.

On August 6, it was reported that the Swiss Federal Aviation Administration (FOCA) announced the deployment of FIMS. In the Swiss part of U-Space architecture, the connecting role of FIMS is also visible.
Earlier, Sky review has already wrote about a similar technology from the field of civil aviation — SWIM. It is being implemented in a number of countries and is already used by more than 170 users. The system is one of the key initiatives under the SESAR program, as well as the ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan. The information exchange services for UAV flights — FIMS — are implemented based on SWIM principles.
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