Harmonized Skies 2023, the flagship event organized by the Global UTM Association (GUTMA), concluded on December 4 at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s headquarters in Montreal, Canada.  The conference brought together thought industry leaders, innovators, and regulators to deliberate on the critical themes and challenges shaping the UTM landscape.

The conference touched upon the sector’s most crucial aspects, from the role of digital services and the Internet of Things (IoT) in the aviation domain to the prerequisites for an economically sustainable UTM and drone services industry. Here are some of the main takeaways:

Automation signals the future:

The resounding message from Harmonized Skies 2023 is clear – the era of experiments is over, and implementing automation is the future of aviation. The conference extensively discussed the role of automated testing and certification harmonization in realizing this vision. Industry leaders emphasized the need for streamlined processes and industry-wide cooperation to propel the automation agenda forward.

International and cross-industry cooperation is paramount:

The event underscored the crucial importance of international and cross-industry cooperation in advancing the UTM ecosystem. Fostering collaboration is essential for integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) seamlessly into global airspace. The shared commitment to harmonization and collaboration served as the conference’s centerpiece, with both regulators and industry players agreeing on the need to learn from each other and exploit the existing technological and regulatory infrastructure to lay the foundations for a sound and forward-looking digital aviation sector.

Balancing costs for sustainable UTM:

Integrating costs into all considerations emerged as a pivotal factor for the sustainable evolution of the UTM sector. Participants explored ways to ensure economic viability within the UTM ecosystem, discussing business models, regulatory frameworks, and technological innovations. The industry recognizes the importance of creating a UTM landscape that is not only efficient and safe but also scalable and economically sustainable in the longer run. We have a long road ahead, but the journey has already begun.

The success of Harmonized Skies 2023 can be attributed to the active and enthusiastic participation of the attendees. Thought-provoking discussions, insightful presentations, and dynamic interactions defined the conference, creating a lively and collaborative atmosphere, which we hope will continue further and be conducive to advancing the UTM ecosystem.

Reinaldo Negron, Co-president of GUTMA, emphasized the collaborative spirit, stating, “To go forward, it takes a village, a community… In other words, it takes a GUTMA.”

Harmonized Skies 2023 has set the stage for the next phase in UTM evolution, as well as for ICAO’s Drone Enable Symposium, which took place in the same premises from December 5 to 7 . The industry is poised to embrace automation, deepen international cooperation, and strike a balance between technological advancement and economic sustainability, all without giving up on aviation’s most remarkable historic success: safety.

Our sincere appreciation goes out to our Main Event Partner, Airservices Australia, for their unwavering support and invaluable contributions. We also extend our gratitude to our Strategic Event Partners, Amazon Prime Air and Wing, for their instrumental role in shaping discussions around the future of UTM, as well as to our Supporting Event Partners – Dimetor, DroneUp, Intent Exchange, Openskies Aerial Technology, skeyes, SkyGrid, and the Technology Innovation Institute (TII) – whose collaboration was crucial to the success of the event.

Another big thank you goes to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), for hosting us at their prestigious headquarters in Montreal.

As we enter a new year, the vision of a harmonized and globally integrated UTM system inches closer to reality.