Rob Eagles, Strategy & Rule Making Lead at Airbus UTM
Welcome to GUTMA “Meet Our Members” interview series, where every month we feature a different member.
This month we speak to Rob Eagles, Strategy & Rule Making Lead at Airbus UTM – Thanks to Rob for taking the time to share his latest news, projects, industry insights and trends.
Introducing: Rob Eagles, Strategy & Rule Making Lead at Airbus UTM
Rob has worked in aviation for over 30 years in roles spanning management and operations at Alphabet’s Loon, IATA, UK NATS and Eurocontrol. During this time, he has seen many different technologies and concepts flagged as the next ATM technology step, with varying degrees of success.
“I believe how we access, manage and secure our skies is truly going to shape the next age of aviation. And it’s clear to me that UTM is a key enabler to driving that change.”
Airbus UTM are committed to long-term UTM development for all airspace users and operations, leveraging Airbus’ long history in aviation, safety, airspace design and certification. Today they hold a unique position in building out a sustainable UTM ecosystem that’s suitable for the next 30 years, by combining real-world data from UAS and manned aircraft operations, with the data sets and lessons learned from testing advanced services in their simulation environment.
Airbus has published studies on Airspace Fairness, and open-sourced their proprietary Airspace Simulation Tool – all part of their contribution to moving aviation forward. They outline a range of topics for a new age of flight, from stakeholder roles to air traffic configuration and systems architecture.
“As the world’s largest manned aircraft manufacturer, Airbus understands that a long term UTM framework has to consider all airspace users, and the impact that integration of unmanned traffic will have on commercial aviation.”
The current mission and key goals for Airbus UTM are in building digital air traffic management solutions that enable the next age of aviation. They are designing, developing, and building the critical infrastructure that will allow new aircraft to enter the industry safely, so that they can share the skies of the future. New aircraft include UAS, eVTOL (urban air mobility) and high-altitude pseudo satellites.
The latest projects at Airbus UTM vary and include Low Altitude Authorization and Navigation Capability (LAANC) services, flight briefing services, UAS platform integration, and UTM airspace design and analysis. They also recently announced their integration of flight briefing and LAANC services with DroneDeploy, which will provide a more seamless experience for commercial pilots to plan, review and conduct flights to unlock controlled airspace near airports – this is a significant step forward for commercial airspace solutions. Airbus UTM solutions are also being used in Singapore to enableUAS delivery operations, plus they are working with telecommunications partners to perform coastal 5G network trials for UAS applications.
The business has lots of future activities planned, one of which is in cooperation with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to develop and demonstrate UTM services in an interoperable environment for Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) operations. Rob and the team are very excited about this as it includes a demonstration at the Singapore Airshow in 2022.
As part of the NASA AAM National Campaign series, they will demonstrate a fully interoperable UTM environment for UAM through integrated airspace simulations with NASA and other partners. And, in Europe Airbus is working closely with the EC, EASA and the SJU. They plan to continue to be actively involved in SESAR projects, and the development and testing of U-space. In particular, projects related to the UTM – ATM interface and UAM.
Airbus UTM recently coordinated work on U-Space for UAM, for the Strategic Research Innovation Agenda for Europe, and are working with Eurocontrol to develop a high-altitude concept of operations. Most of their initiatives are designed to provide real world experiences which are important in learning and adapting for the future, supporting the needs of both internal and external customers.
Rob expects key industry trends to be around advanced technology, enhanced computing power and new concepts of operation – a strong combination to help facilitate new commercial air transport operations. He sees the biggest challenge being around digital transformation and traffic management in general. Specifically, the crucial role of software development in the process, as this will be newly applied to aviation. Rob said: “Considerations around the transition to cloud-based platforms, the adoption of extensive connectivity, the application of big data and the application (and regulation) of AI will all impact.”
Airbus UTM are currently looking to partner with private and public entities that are committed to the enablement of continuous learning and adaptation in delivering value to airspace users and service providers.
The notion that UTM is a development platform for the next generation of traffic management is what drives Rob. He said: “I’m excited about how our work in UTM will support the modernization of ATM. Facilitating future airborne transportation solutions in a safe, sustainable and responsible fashion.”
Rob leaves us with this closing statement: “I’d like to acknowledge the importance of GUTMA within the aviation industry. Membership is very diverse, and its important stakeholders work together to effectively support and accelerate the transparent implementation of new digital systems and services.
I’m thrilled to be a member of the GUTMA board and look forward to helping the UTM industry come together to deliver a global ecosystem. This will not happen quickly, and there are challenges ahead, but it’s important we understand the potential of new technology and concepts of operation to evolve airspace and traffic management in general.”
Feel free to contact us at GUTMA if you have any questions and please do visit our blog again soon for more upcoming interviews!