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UTM Pilot Program

UTM Pilot ProgramSmall Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) or drone operators are continuously exercising new, beneficial applications for sUAS or drone operations, such as goods delivery, infrastructure inspection, search and rescue, and agricultural monitoring. Currently, there is limited infrastructure available to manage the widespread expansion of sUAS or drone operations within the National Airspace System (NAS). A safe and efficient UAS traffic management (UTM) system is needed to help ensure this quickly growing industry is able to integrate into the NAS safely and efficiently.

A UTM Pilot Program (UPP) was established in April 2017 – per the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Extension (PDF), Safety and Security Act of 2016 (PDF), Sec. 2208 – as an important component for identifying the initial set of industry and FAA capabilities required to support UTM operations. Analysis of test and demonstration results will provide an understanding of the level of investment required for each stakeholder's implementation. On January 14, 2019, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao, announced the FAA's selection of three FAA UAS Test Sites to partner with the agency in the UPP:

Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS)

Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS)

Virginia Tech, Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP)

A map of the U.S. depicting the UPP selected test site locations.

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As the FAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and their new industry partners move forward, the primary goal for the UPP is to develop, demonstrate, and provide enterprise services, using a cloud service infrastructure, which will support the implementation of initial UTM operations. These enterprise services will support the sharing of information that promotes cooperative separation and situational awareness.

The following information sheet provides a high-level overview and timeline for the UPP. It also provides a summary of the participating FAA UAS Test Sites and the test environments used to demonstrate the initial set of capabilities that will support the implementation of expanded UTM operations.

UPP High-Level Operational Concept

New UTM capabilities and services will evolve as UTM operational concepts and data exchange requirements mature.

An example of interactions between drones (BVLOS and VLOS operations), providers, networks, and services.

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UPP: A Model Towards an Operational Concept

As UAS or drone traffic demand increases in the NAS, it is necessary for the FAA, along with NASA and industry partners, to develop a means to accommodate these operations in a safe and efficient manner. As an initial step in completing the UPP demonstration – and in support of the UTM ecosystem – the prototype Flight Information Management System (FIMS) has been transitioned to the FAA test facilities at the William J. Hughes Technical Center (WHJTC) for integration and testing. Developed by NASA in collaboration with the FAA, FIMS is a central component of the ecosystem providing the FAA with access to UTM data.

UTM services to be demonstrated in the UPP include sharing of flight intent between operators, the ability for a UAS Service Supplier (USS) to generate a UAS Volume Reservation (UVR) – a capability providing authorized USSs the ability to issue notifications to UAS or drone operators regarding air or ground activities relevant to their safe operation – and share it with stakeholders (e.g., other USSs, FIMS, UAS operators). As part of this demonstration, FIMS will publish this UVR to the FAA Drone Zone.

UTM Ecosystem

A diagram of UTM architecture, including FAA Cloud Services, applications, authoritative and data sources, service gateway, and users.

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UPP Significant Events Milestones

A chart of planned milestones: workshop, start collaboration and development, flight tests, demos complete, and final report complete.

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Reference Documents



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