Can you tell us something about Unifly?
‘Unifly is the leading supplier of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) software. Our platform connects official entities with operators to integrate drones into the air space safely and securely. We offer a step-by-step, futureproof path towards a full solution. Unifly UTM offers drone users tools that inform them about the rules and situations at a given location. These rules are often complex and there are many variables to take into account. Drone operators can plan, track and validate their drones and their flights in line with international and local regulation. The system parses the underlying rules and real-time information to give the user a clear answer in a user-friendly way. Unifly UTM automates the workflow of the flight submission and approval process. On the other side, we notify the official entities about the flights and allow them to take action if required. Authorities can visualize and manage drone flights and declare no-fly zones. ’
What are your biggest technological challenges at the moment?
‘Safety is of paramount importance and it is the most urgent challenge national aviation authorities as well as the private sector are facing today. How can you ensure a secure supervision of both recreational and commercial drone operations? Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) all around the world are now confronted with the problem of integrating drone traffic with their existing air traffic management (ATM) systems. This integration is complicated further by the increased speed of adoption of drones, the rapid technological evolution and the uncertainties and complexities surrounding the regulatory framework applicable to drones. Authorities have the responsibility for their airspace, but they currently lack a true means of control. Drones literally fly below the radar. Authorities need to have the drone pilot community on board in a collaborative model. Moreover, the sheer volume of drone traffic and the explosive growth of flight requests makes it impossible to manage the upcoming workload manually. The only solution is to treat the rules and regulations through automation. The flight approval process does not necessarily require human intervention. This approach saves resources to manually treat the special cases where an automated response is inadequate or impossible.’
What do you hope people will learn from your presentation at TUS Nordics?
‘The Unifly platform is the first product in the world that is being used by multiple ANSPs and supports multiple languages. It is an existing product that can be fully configured according to the ANSPs preferences. DFS, Naviair and Austro Control have chosen Unifly as their partner to develop the UTM system and infrastructure in their respective countries. Moreover, Thales and Unifly have joined forces to satisfy the growing need for UTM by creating ECOsystem UTM, an advanced solution for Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management (UTM). Collaboration is vital. This is why Unifly partners with many different research groups and companies, both in Belgium and abroad, in Europe as well as worldwide. Unifly offers an open platform to align everyone’s interests and to ensure an air-traffic management system for drones to increase visibility and prevent collisions.’
What presentation do you hope to give in 5 years?
‘Drones are a positive disruptive force in the global economy. Unifly is one of the main actors ensuring that drones can and will be integrated in a safe and legal way. This will help drones become part of general aviation and our daily lives. Due to the explosive growth, in five years’ time the bulk of air traffic movement will consist of unmanned flights.’