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Horizon 2020 SESAR JU calls on drone operation impacts

Check out the list of calls on the European Commission website

Open: 14th July 2016

Deadline: 25th October 2016



The growing drone market shows significant potential for Europe. The development of the drone industry is dependent on the ability of drones to operate in all areas of airspace, including at very low levels. Stimulating research and innovation in this domain and in relation to the traffic management of drones operations is therefore a "must-have" to safely unlock growth.

Note that the term ‘drone’ has been widely adopted to describe all types of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), including Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and autonomous vehicles. For convenience, the term ‘drone’ is used throughout this call.

As part of SESAR 2020, the SESAR Joint Undertaking is seeking through this call to stimulate innovative players to explore initial solutions for a new unmanned traffic management ("UTM") system supporting the cohabitation/sharing of airspace of manned and unmanned systems, which represents a critical market enabler that has not yet been sufficiently addressed at the European level.

The SESAR Exploratory Research into Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) will address the key research questions impacting the operation of UAS and RPAS in the very low level (VLL), including beyond visual line of sight (B-VLOS) operations, as well as visual flight rules (VFR) environments (noting that the topic of instrument flight rules (IFR) integration will be addressed in other components of the SESAR 2020 Programme).

Two work areas are defined under this call; these are UAS/RPAS integration operational issues and UAS/RPAS integration technical issues. The first work area on UAS/RPAS integration operational issues (Work Area 1) includes one topic while Work Area 2 is split into 6 further topics.

Work Area 1: Operational issues

This Work Area covers the SESAR unmanned traffic management (UTM) Concept Definition and will develop an operational concept to enable the operation of drones of all capabilities in the very low-level (VLL) environment, while co-existing safely with existing manned aviation and respecting the needs of society at large. Work in this area should capitalise on on-going work carried out elsewhere (such as JARUS, EASA and NASA). To ensure a coherent concept definition the 4 operational topics identified under the SJU Work Programme 2016 have been combined into the one call topic.

Work Area 2: Technical issues

This Work Area will address the feasibility of technology options which support drone operations and integration, where required in the VLL and VFR domains. Research should help mature emerging technologies and applications for UTM – from advanced fields such as IT, telecoms, intelligent systems or robotics – which can be fast-tracked into providing solutions to specific problems that are core to the near term development of the EU drone industry. It should also help bridge SESAR UTM research with the wider scientific community and will provide the science necessary to support the safe integration of VLL drones, considering higher levels of automation.

The purpose of this procedure is to award a maximum of 10 Grant Agreements (GAs), including a maximum of 1 GA for Work Area 1 and a maximum of 9 GAs for Work Area 2. The maximum duration of the GAs and therefore the projects is 24 months.

The maximum budget for Work Area 1 is 0,8M EUR and for Work Area 2 is 8,2M EUR.

Please note that in addition to all provisions below, the key reference documents for this Call for Proposal are the SJU Work Programme 2016 and SESAR 2020 Multi-Annual Work Programme. They set out the purpose and scope of the ER Call for Proposals that will be implemented via the resulting Grant Agreements as well as the conditions for participation and award.

The applicable agreement type is the SJU Model Grant Agreement (MGA), provided as part of the call. General guidance can be found in the Annotated Model Grant Agreement (AMGA).


Statement from the EC on UK participation in Horizon 2020 projects post referendum

For those concerned about Horizon 2020 post-EU referendum, the European Commission has said “The Statement of 29 June of the Heads of State or Government of 27 Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, confirms that until the UK leaves the EU, EU law continues to apply to and within the UK, both when it comes to rights and obligations. This includes the eligibility of UK legal entities to participate and receive funding in Horizon 2020 actions”

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