Currently, drone and U-space projects are important to learn how to fly drones safely and how to make the developing U-space system more reliable. These U-space projects can be sustainable and will attract additional investment if the proposed solutions are compatible with the European framework. This the reason why the Commission decided to set up a European Network of U-space Demonstrators to support these projects.

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The network is a cooperation of the European Aviation Safety Agency, SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) and EUROCONTROL and emphasizes on projects that need further operational and regulatory demonstrations before starting commercial operations. The network also focuses on projects with a clear business case that build on mature technologies, but need some further operational and regulatory demonstrations.

The network would also help the relevant authorities in processing the numerous applications that can be expected once commercial businesses will be started.

According to Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Antwerp Port Authority, drones will become crucial in the near future, to support ports.

For his part, Johan Decuyper, CEO Belgocontrol, stated:

The dronesector is making us re-invent ourselves as airspace manager, and deal with new types of airspace users. Rather than standing on the sidelines, we believe it is important to be a driving factor in this evolution. Yet we cannot and will not ignore the safety challenges that go along with it.

A first overview of activities of the Network will be presented at the next High-Level Conference on Drones in Amsterdam in November 2018.