At this year's World ATM Congress in Madrid, DFS, the German air navigation services provider, and Droniq won the UTM Innovation Award for the U-Space Sandbox project in Hamburg. With the U-Space Sandbox, it was demonstrated for the first time how a U-Space can function in practice through the use of a drone traffic management system, or UTM for short.
The ATM/UTM Awards are presented by the Air Traffic Management Magazine and the Unmanned Airspace platform. The awards recognise outstanding ideas and achievements in the areas of safety, innovation, cost efficiency and environment in airspace management. A high-profile jury consisting of industry representatives examined and evaluated the project proposals submitted. Droniq and DFS are among five award winners in different categories.
The UTM Innovation Award recognises projects that advance the integration of drones into airspace. Droniq and DFS entered the competition in this category with their U-Space Sandbox in Hamburg. In this Sandbox, set up with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), Droniq and DFS demonstrated for the first time how the European Union's U-Space concept can work in practice. An essential component of the project implemented in 2021 was the UTM system developed by DFS and marketed by Droniq, which was used to provide the services mandated in a U-Space. From 2023, these U-Spaces can be set up in Europe. These areas will allow drones to be safely and efficiently integrated into airspace, including the interplay with manned aircraft. This will enable the regular use of drones, for example in logistics, agriculture or in the medical sector.
"With the launch of U-Spaces, the drone market will soon open a new and exciting chapter," said Droniq CEO Jan-Eric Putze. "In our previous U-Space projects, we have already gained the necessary experience to actively shape this development, both in terms of the technical requirements for safe and continuous U-Space operation and in terms of the expertise required. We are excited about the time ahead and are well equipped to play our role."
Arndt Schoenemann, CEO and Chairman of the DFS Executive Board said: "It is important to put the first U-Spaces into action to advance the safe integration of drones into airspace. With the U-Space Sandbox in Hamburg, we have convincingly demonstrated how this can be done and at the same time we have demonstrated the DFS group’s technological capabilities. Unmanned aviation is an important part of future air traffic, which will in certain fields become increasingly autonomous in its operations."
For more information on the U-Space Sandbox, please visit the project website at
About the U-Space Sandbox in Hamburg
Last year, Droniq and DFS demonstrated for the first time in Germany how a U-Space can be put into practice in accordance with the requirements of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). To this end, the companies set up a U-Space Sandbox, in the Port of Hamburg. The role of the U-Space service provider (USSP) was taken on by Droniq, while DFS acted as the single common information service provider (SCISP) for the project. The seven-month project had a budget of approximately EUR 1 million and was funded in part by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV). The Sandbox was implemented together with numerous project partners. These included the Hamburg Port Authority AöR (HPA), HHLA Sky GmbH, the Hamburg Ministry of Economics and Innovation, Hamburg Aviation, as well as the UDVeo project consortium.
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Droniq GmbH is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and is a joint venture between DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (DFS) and Deutsche Telekom AG. The object of the company is the provision, distribution and marketing of services for drones and other aircraft in Europe. DFS holds a stake of 51 percent through its subsidiary DFS International Business Services GmbH, while Deutsche Telekom holds a stake of 49 percent through Telekom Innovation Pool GmbH. www.droniq.de
DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,600 employees as at 31 December 2021. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,200 air traffic controllers guide more than three million flights through German airspace in peak years, up to 10,000 every day. The company operates control centres in Bremen, Karlsruhe, Langen and Munich as well as control towers at the 15 designated international airports in Germany. The subsidiary DFS Aviation Services GmbH markets and sells products and services related to air navigation services, and provides air traffic control at nine regional airports in Germany and at London Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport in the UK. DFS is working on the integration of drones into air traffic and has set up a joint venture, Droniq GmbH, with Deutsche Telekom. Other subsidiaries include R. Eisenschmidt GmbH, which markets publications and products for general aviation, and Kaufbeuren ATM Training GmbH (KAT), which provides training for military air traffic services personnel. The joint venture FCS Flight Calibration Services GmbH offers flight inspection services.