Global UTM services provider OneSky awarded a contract with Airservices Australia (Airservices) to develop a working prototype of a Flight Information Management System (FIMS) for its Uncrewed Traffic Management (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, our goal is to collaborate with Airservices to create a platform for a wide variety of services: one that will ensure that drones operate safely within regulations and have minimum impact on other aircraft and the communities they fly over, and ensure “efficient, fair, and competitive access to airspace.”
Daniel Honaker, OneSky Head of International Implementation, says that Australia’s concept for UTM is groundbreaking. “This is one of the most comprehensive, well thought-out system specifications that we’ve seen,” says Honaker.
OneSky‘s deep expertise, including its 30-year heritage in the aerospace industry with Analytical Graphics Inc (AGI), and previous project experience with Airservices made OneSky an ideal choice for developing the FIMS prototype. “We started developing UTM solutions in 2015 and have been spiraling development to continue to meet the needs of the UTM space ever since,” says Honaker. “As such, we have a strong foundation of both the basic infrastructure and advanced services.”
“We believe we have a very flexible architecture, and we can meet Airservices’ hybrid approach,” Honaker says. “We’re in complete alignment in terms of their concept and development roadmap, and our services already check many of the boxes of their requirements.”
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. “We have a lot of experience working directly with the operators,” Honaker says. “We know not only how to put the system together but how to make it work.”
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,” says Honaker. AAM Group is a world leader in geospatial data; as any UTM framework is a “system of systems,” Airbus is a recognized world expert on fairness in airspace access. ResilienX brings their expertise in system conformance monitoring and safety assurance to the project.
Airservices Chief Customer Experience Strategy Officer Peter Curran said FIMS will be a central component of the Uncrewed Aircraft System Traffic Management (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 Mr. 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.”
As one of only four global UTM providers selected for the project, the FIMS development project is the culmination of years of work, participating on the leading global trials and panels developing UTM concepts.
“We’ve learned no one company solves all of this themselves – we’re very excited to be part of this small group of RFP recipients, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with our partners and demonstrating the OneSky solution for Australia,” says OneSky CEO Bob Hammett.
“What Airservices Australia was looking for was something more advanced than the basic UTM system,” Hammett says. “Their requirements are very robust, and they reflect their advanced thinking on the UTM needs for Australia.”
The deliverable for the Airservices RFP is significant: but it’s only the start. OneSky will deliver a fully functioning FIMS prototype that allows for qualified USS providers 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,” says Hammett.
“We’re in this for the long run, and we want to see its success. Not only in this next phase where we bring in uncrewed aircraft, but for the later phases of urban and advanced air mobility.”