Airservices picks OneSky to ensure safe drone traffic in Oz

Global UTM (uncrewed aircraft system traffic management) services provider OneSky won a contract with Airservices Australia to develop a working prototype of a Flight Information Management System (FIMS) for its UTM network.

The Airservices tender calls for providers to build out a concept for a FIMS tailored to the needs of the Australian aviation industry. 

While FIMS can refer to an interface between an Air Traffic Management System and UTM for the transfer of data, the goal is to collaborate with Airservices to create a platform that will ensure that drones operate safely within regulations, and have minimum impact on other aircraft and the communities they fly over. The platform must also ensure “efficient, fair, and competitive access to airspace.”

Daniel Honaker, head of international implementation at the United States-based OneSky, said that Australia’s concept for UTM is groundbreaking and that it is one of the most comprehensive, well thought-out system specifications that they have seen.

“We started developing UTM solutions in 2015 and have been spiraling development to continue to meet the needs of the UTM space ever since,” said Honaker. “We believe we have a very flexible architecture, and we can meet Airservices’ hybrid approach.”

While building a system that meets global standards presents a challenge, integrating that system with the wide variety of aircraft, communications systems, and services that comprise a cooperative system is an even greater difficulty. OneSky’s integration framework, designed to make it easy for new users to onboard, directly addresses the issue.

Partners AAM Group, Airbus, and ResilienX will work with OneSky to deliver a full system. “We have brought in leading thought leaders to add their unique contributions to the effort,” said Honaker. 

Airservices chief customer experience strategy officer Peter Curran said FIMS will be a central component of the UTM ecosystem, providing common situational awareness among everyone operating in Australian airspace.

“The expected growth of new airspaces users and new aircraft types – all with different automation, digitisation and intelligence systems – presents an exciting opportunity for Airservices to work collaboratively with industry to develop the FIMS and provide safe, efficient and equitable access to airspace for traditional as well as new airspace users,” said Curran.

“FIMS will facilitate the exchange of information between all stakeholders — air traffic control, traditional aircraft and drone operators — to enable the safest and most efficient use of mixed-traffic airspace,” he added.

OneSky is expected to deliver a fully functioning FIMS prototype that allows for qualified USS providers (unmanned aircraft system service supplier) to participate, forming the bridge between the actual drone operator and the UTM system. 

Based on the prototype, the Airservices concept could be used around the world to advance uncrewed systems. “We hope to form a long-term partnership with Airservices as they work to advance these concepts globally,” said OneSky CEO Bob Hammett.