Note: this position must be considered as provisional policy until has been approved by IFATCA's Member Associations

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), their market and their operations, are the future for airborne mobility and logistics and will have a significant impact on aviation. To facilitate safe access to airspace for the increasing numbers of unmanned aircraft (UA), a dedicated UAS traffic management (UTM) system has been proposed and is currently being developed.

The purpose of a UTM is to safely manage UAS operations both in controlled and uncontrolled airspace using a high degree of automation. Information will automatically be collected from and distributed to all affected stakeholders leaving the UAS operator to be responsible for managing its operations safely without direct interaction with Air Traffic Management (ATM).

In the short to medium term, the development of UTM will focus on Very Low-Level Airspace (typically 500ft and below) to accommodate Urban Air Mobility (UAM), parcel delivery, industrial applications, etc. Even though UTM is still a general concept with no altitude restrictions, this initial development is focused on low-level airspace with the potential to leverage off knowledge gained to apply to Very High-Level Operations like stratospheric balloons or hypersonic vehicles into the future (ETM: Upper-E Traffic Management).

Due to different technologies and capabilities, specific operational requirements and limitations, and different regulatory requirements, UTM is considered a separate, but potentially complementary, system to the ANSP-supplied ATM. In fact, all the fundamental characteristics of an ATM system (Air Traffic Services, Air Space Management, Air Traffic Flow Management TFM) can also be found, with the necessary peculiarities, in UTM.

It is anticipated that in the future the two systems will converge into one traffic management system providing a seamless service to all airspace users with manned airspace users maintaining existing operational capacity and safety standards.

In order to promote safe, efficient and consistent regulation, and to assist and advise in the development of safe and orderly systems of Air Traffic Control, IFATCA would like to provide the following observations with a view to contributing to ongoing development of UTM.


It is important that a UTM is coordinated and developed with the ultimate goal on integration to the current ATM system. This requires discussion, standardisation and a UTM safety risk assessment model.

The fundamental aspect remains the adoption of an adequate regulatory framework that allows safe interactions between ATM and UTM. The required level of automation shall be carefully evaluated for a clear and unambiguous allocation of responsibilities.


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