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On 21 May 2015, the 5th User & Stakeholder RPAS Workshop, jointly organised by ESA, EDA, EASA and Eurocontrol, took place at ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The event was attended by some 140 participants, reflecting the growing interest in the new applications offered by the integration of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) with space systems. Representatives were present from diverse user communities (maritime, security, humanitarian aid, agriculture, etc) as well as from industry, aviation, and regulatory bodies. Civil protection and maritime monitoring were just two of the areas where speakers highlighted an impressive range of opportunities.
One of the main focuses of the workshop was on the development of new RPAS based applications enabled by satellite services. Also addressed were air traffic management, technology evolution, standardisation, and regulatory issues which need to evolve in a coordinated manner.
The presence of a number of leading European satellite operators at the event attested to the growing importance of satellite services for RPASs. Through the Integrated Applications Promotion programme, ESA actively supports the development of new applications based on RPASs that use space assets to the benefit of user communities.
With plans for a wide range of new RPAS-based services for many civilian sectors and ongoing development of the associated technology, European industry is clearly demonstrating the market potential of RPASs. Speakers however stressed that a regulatory framework for integrating unmanned aircraft in general airspace needs to be established as soon as possible for the successful development of these services. Presentations by representatives of regulatory and air traffic management bodies clearly indicate that Europe is now ready to tackle these urgent issues.
“RPASs using satellites clearly have tremendous potential. ESA, through the ARTES Programme, and in particular IAP, will continue to offer concrete opportunities to RPAS industrial actors to develop and demonstrate their application to the benefits of user communities,” said ESA’ s Laurence Duquerroy, one of the event’ s organisers. “But developing a European regulatory framework will be a significant challenge. ESA in collaboration with EDA, EASA and Eurocontrol, is also ready to further support the needed initiatives to realise this ambitious goal.”
Photos: ESA/A. Le Floc'h