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New Unmanned Airspace report: delays to UTM implementation threaten UAM business plans

The global UAS traffic management (UTM)/U-space market over the next five years (2022-2026) will be worth USD1,999 million, of which USD720 million will come from government investment in research and early deployment and USD1,279 million will be derived from UTM operational charges, according to Unmanned Airspace’s latest 2022-2026 edition of its bi-annual sector survey The market for UAV Traffic Management Services. This is a considerable rise over the December 2021 survey, which forecast a USD1.37 billion market for 2021-2025.

But the report notes that only two nationwide UTM programmes were launched in the first six months of 2022. “This is surprising, given the January 2023 date for European Union U-space regulation to be in place,” said Butterworth-Hayes. “But a number of factors have slowed down deployment of UTM technologies, including budgetary constraints following the Covid pandemic, a lack of clarity of granular detail in the proposed regulations and continuing confusion around the business case for UTM technology suppliers and service providers”

“Along with regulatory and standards gaps there are still uncertainties around the robustness and resilience of key enabling technologies, such as communications networks, detect-and-avoid and integrated counter-UAS systems,” said Butterworth-Hayes. “As many urban air mobility (UAM) vehicle manufacturer business plans rely on urban UTM systems being in place in the 2025/2026 timeframe this deadline presents the aviation industry – especially regulators, standards organisations and infrastructure suppliers – with one of the biggest technical and institutional challenges in its entire history.”

A detailed breakdown of contents and some sample pages can be found here:


The study takes a high-level view of the drone sector and aligns this with a bottom-up, country-by-country analysis of planned UTM system procurements.

From the high-level view, the small UAS market, based on an average of the latest forecast-of-forecasts, is predicted to grow at an average of 23.23% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next few years. However, perhaps more importantly from a UTM market viewpoint, the beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) market for drones will grow at a rate of 71.1% CAGR globally. The Unmanned Airspace study is predicated on UTM services currently accounting for 1.3% of the market, rising to 3.2% in 2025 and beyond, to support scalable automated BVLOS services.

The bottom-up, country-by-country view, notes that until now UTM procurement policies have tended to be focused on national State or air navigation service provider (ANSP) programmes, from 2024 cities and ports will be major market drivers, with North Sea ports some of the most important pioneers in this area.

“It looks as though 2024 will be the pivotal year for the industry,” said the report’s author Philip Butterworth-Hayes. ”That’s also when the regulations, standards and proven technology maturity levels should all be in place to support the first commercial, automated BVLOS operations at scale. But we are building an entirely new integrated, system-of-systems aviation network to support drone and eVTOL BVLOS flights – the UTM segment is currently behind schedule.”


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