Estonian Air Navigation Services, (EANS) has enlisted the support of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) manufacturer, Threod Systems and safety-critical technology provider, Frequentis, to support Estonian blue-light forces with a series of essential drone operations during the COVID19 lockdown. The operations are supporting Estonian emergency services with medical transport and information gathering. Threod Systems, an innovative Estonian UAS manufacturer, was approached by Estonian public health organisations and the Police and Border Guard Board. Unmanned traffic management Frequentis, a renowned air traffic management (ATM) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems provider, who worked with EANS on its SESAR Gulf of Finland (GOF) unmanned airspace (U-space) trial in 2018 and 2019, was contacted to again provide its flight information management system (FIMS) which provides the Common Information Services (CIS) function to the operation. Severe movement restrictions were implemented for Hiiumaa with the mainland of Estonia" In several regions of the country, the Police, together with the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, have used drones to inform the public of the lockdown rules and to monitor activity. Local authorities also require support with transporting medical supplies to remote or island locations. “Severe movement restrictions were implemented for Hiiumaa with the mainland of Estonia, among other islands, during the lockdown to stop any virus spread,” explained Mikk Murumäe, Co-Founder and Lead Software Engineer at Threod Systems. Emergency air lifting services “Threod Systems set out to support local authorities with medical and other urgent transport to the mainland, including forwarding COVID-19 test samples. This served as a very successful proof of concept to provide an alternative and relief to manned emergency air lifting services, which are urgently required elsewhere during these types of situation.” One airspace for all users EANS continues to safely and reliably operate Estonian airspace, providing services to manned flights and international manned COVID-19 relief flights, but the need to safely integrate drones for this special mission meant reactivating the Frequentis FIMS from the previous drone trials. The FIMS provides realtime situational awareness to air traffic controllers, enabling both manned flights and Threod drones to safely share the same airspace, providing controllers with the complete air situation picture. Unmanned and manned aviation “We gained extremely positive experience from all parties during the SESAR GOF U-space trials during 2018 and 2019 and therefore feel very well-prepared to appropriately respond to the challenges during COVID-19 times,” noted Maria Tamm, GOF Project Manager for EANS and now UTM development lead in Estonia. EANS is currently developing the concept of operations for accelerating the roll-out of Estonian Uspace “In order to enable the safe and secure integration of unmanned and manned aviation, all parties who use the airspace, must be aware of each other.” EANS is currently developing the concept of operations for accelerating the roll-out of Estonian Uspace. These drone operations supporting public safety during lockdown were another step closer outline the roadmap for enabling safe and secure integration of unmanned and manned aviation into Estonian airspace. Provide enhanced situational awareness “We had experienced the professionalism of EANS and Threod Systems during the GOF demonstration and were pleased to provide enhanced situational awareness for this operation and allow these essential drone flights to take place,” says Hannu Juurakko, Frequentis Vice President ATM Civil and Chairman of the ATM Executive Team. “The Frequentis FIMS infrastructure uses the Frequentis integration platform MosaiX, and several modules of field proven ATM-Grade Products, all hosted virtually using a cloud infrastructure in Vienna, Austria.”
Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations are key for future commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) use cases, including public safety, industrial inspection and urban air mobility. Frequentis has partnered with mobile network connectivity specialist and start-up, Dimetor, to enable network connectivity for command and control (C2) and payload data links to ensure reliable and consistent data sharing. Dynamic and reliable telecommunication data The initial introduction of UAV’s to the airspace has been limited to visual line of sight (VLOS) operations. To extend commercial drone applications, BVLOS operations are essential for governmental entities as well as commercial deployments and many countries are now amending their drone policies to allow such flights. So far, the use of network connectivity and associated data have not been standardised This requires accurate, dynamic, and reliable telecommunication data and it is important to have this information from a single source. So far, the use of network connectivity and associated data have not been standardised for pre-flight assessment or regulated for operational use. However, recent drone trials in Finland and Estonia for the Gulf of Finland (GOF) U-space project uncovered this requirement and need for connectivity to enable consistent data sharing between the UAV and the UTM system. Critical data for safe BVLOS drone flights The connectivity platform from Dimetor, AirborneRF™, is deployed at the operational data centers of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), processing highly confidential network data for assuring cellular connectivity for UAV operations. Flight planning tools like Frequentis’ CADAS-ATS and other U-space services can use the constraints in the pre-tactical/tactical phase of a BVLOS drone flight and either approve or reject the proposed flight plan. AirborneRF can also be used to demonstrate network capabilities to airspace regulators and UAV service providers. The partnership between Frequentis and Dimetor then enables the MNOs to seamlessly integrate the connectivity information into the aeronautical information management database (AIMdb), and thus to become an integral part of the developing ecosystem for commercial BVLOS drone operations. We will exchange our knowledge and work together to strengthen and develop the future airspace ecosystem" “By partnering with Dimetor, we can further explore and advance our work in the field of ATM and UTM. Through this cooperation, we will exchange our knowledge and experiences and work together to strengthen and develop the future airspace ecosystem, enabling the provision of critical data for safe BVLOS drone flights. This partnership is a significant step towards enabling our customers to keep pace with the additional growth by minimising operating costs.” says Hannu Juurakko, Frequentis Chairman of the ATM Executive Team. Highest quality and safety for BVLOS The agreement between Frequentis and Dimetor highlights the unified commitments to providing safety-critical services ensuring highest quality and safety for BVLOS and highly automated drone operations based on connectivity information. “At Dimetor we are delighted to be partnering with Frequentis. This will enable an integrated solution bringing together the 3D cellular connectivity information for safe BVLOS operations with Aeronautical Information Management (AIM) and UTM/ATM systems - on global scale”, says Thomas Wana, Dimetor Co-founder and CTO. Frequentis and Dimetor will enable drone powered business operations with a total addressable market value over 127billion USD forecasted by PricewaterhouseCoopers International (PwC).