Chris Kucera, OneSky’s Head of Strategic Partnerships, discusses the real meaning of UTM.
There has been a lot of talk about UTM recently. But what is UTM really?
UTM, or Uncrewed Traffic Management, is a digital system meant to integrate drones and other aircraft into the airspace. It does so collaboratively, so we have many different stakeholders. Think of UTM as an ecosystem. It’s not one software but has many different partners, with interface standards for sending data in and getting information back out of a system.
UTM has many stakeholders, including regulators, who set the rules and policies for how the system works. Operators also have a stake in UTM, sending in flight plans and tracking data but getting back alerts. Law enforcement can utilize UTM to put in flight restrictions when emergencies occur, checking drone activity. Then some data providers improve the system by supplementing it with services, including weather and surveillance.
All of these stakeholders need to integrate into the UTM ecosystem. When somebody says they do UTM, they are probably one of many stakeholders providing UTM. No one provides UTM holistically, and we all do our part and enable systems to collaborate.
The OneSky UTM is built around the goal of harmonizing the sky and ensuring safe, efficient, and scalable access for all airspace users. We work with an ecosystem of partners while following international ICAO recommendations and global industry requirements and standards.
We start from the ground and work our way up. Our base layers come from our sister company, Cesium, which produces the world’s most accurate, performant, and time-dynamic virtual globe. Like us, they support interoperability and collaboration, rooted in aerospace, and are experts in advanced 3D geospatial techniques.
As we work our way through the airspace, we have partners collaborating with us through ground-based detect and alert systems such as IRIS Automation, adding support for BVLOS missions. TruWeather brings its micro-weather sensing, modeling, and decision insights. Spirent enables UAS operators to predict and quantify GPS performance based on precise orbital data, terrain, and 3D city models to enable BVLOS flight even in challenging suburban/urban environments. We work with partners like AATI, Skyports, and MissionGO, integrating their data and providing support for mission planning and operations. They can take advantage of all the services available in the UTM ecosystem. ANSPs, CAAs, operators, and OEMs have access to all of these same services when they need them.
UTM is a system of systems, expanding to incorporate all airspace users, from low-level drones to air taxis, to basic air traffic management to high-level ETM, and even into space. The whole airspace stack, including commercial space transport going through the airspace during a space launch. We have to know who is operating in that airspace if we are going to be safe and use the airspace efficiently.
UTM is a step in the direction of bringing together the various airspace domains and getting the complete airspace picture.