Safe and flexible integration of advanced U-space services for medical air mobility

SAFIR-Med is an awarded U-space management large-scale innovation project. Drones are emerging as a viable solution for urgent and reliable medical transport. The vision of SAFIR-Med is to demonstrate the use of urban air mobility in service to the EU healthcare system. and to ensure democratic access to cure and care for future generations. This is why it was selected by SESAR among other demonstration projects as the most successful in showing the benefits of SESAR innovation in live operational contexts, helping to secure stakeholder buy-in and with potential to have long-term positive impact on #ATM performance.

What will we learn from SAFIR-Med?

All lessons learnt from this U-space management project are documented in a performance assessment and a recommendations report. The report includes:

  • Refinements to the current U-space architecture principles.
  • Proposals for improved operational procedures and mechanisms for an effective interface with Air Traffic Control (ATC) and U-space service providers.
  • Α Human Performance Assessment (led by Future Needs) detailing how controllers performed during the demonstrations.

Another innovative outcome of the project is the creation of a set of Urban Air Mobility indicators which will help cities get acquainted with their role in U-space management and help them include UAM in their Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs).

The role of Future Needs in the project

Future Needs led the development of Smart City UAM indicators framework in the SAFIR-Med project. In this task we conducted an impact assessment on the effectiveness and implications of UAM adoption for the urban spatial structure and citizens focusing on the mid-term timeline. We primarily focused on the significance of changes that will be brought about in the city context considering the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Sustainable Urban Mobility Indicators (SUMI) outlined by the European Commission.

Furthermore, Future Needs leads the dissemination, communication and exploitation activities of the SAFIR-Med project. We have created the project’s website and dissemination material (poster and flyer), prepared the press releases, and we are curating the newsletter and the social media, Twitter and Linkedin, of the project. We have also organised the SAFIR-Med events together with the project partners. The website has been continuously updated and presents the project’s deliverables, news, brochures, flyers, videos, consortium’s expertise in UAM and project’s progress and results from the demonstrations. In our role of social media coordinator we are posting news and updates on the SAFIR-Med activities and the progression of project’s tasks and deliverables, as well as launch novel cross-project campaigns like running the #UAMExplained campaign. Very early we have reached and finally quadrupled our initial goals receiving congratulations from SESAR3 JU for the best Dissemination and Communication among the SJU projects.

Future Needs also prepared and conducted the Human Performance Assessment during the demonstrations. Our role was to identify the HP requirements and recommendations to support the design and development of the new U-space concept. We ensured that the roles and responsibilities of human actors in the demonstrations are clear and exhaustive and that the refined operating methods are also exhaustive and support human performance, and finally that human actors can achieve their tasks in a timely and accurate way.

Last but not least, Future Needs acted as a Sustainability manager in the  SAFIR-Med project.  We ensured the future exploitation and deployment of the project results and the continuation of the SAFIR-Med research and innovation.

Finally, Future Needs was in charge of the research ethics and data protection of the project. We coordinated the process of keeping records on how, when, where and why data is collected, how it is processed, how it is used, stored and secured, how access is granted to project partners. All that is documented in the Data Management Plan of the Project as well as the Ethics deliverables.

What was tested during the project?

During the project new U-Space services were tested to validate their contribution to operational safety. Technologies that were tested during the demonstrations include detect-and-avoid as a service, dynamic geofencing and air traffic prioritization rules. Five drone platforms were combined with manned aviation in operational exercises that will validate technology in real urban environment. These platforms are: passenger eVTOL, hydrogen fuel cell VTOL, AED medical drone, X8 medical transport and tiltwing VTOL drone.

What about project demonstrations?

Project demonstrations took place at the city of Antwerp in Belgium and are soon to be completed in Aachen, Germany  and the trans-border MAHHL region. A de-risking exercise will took place at the DronePort test-facility in Sint-Truiden in Belgium.

Real demonstrations were enhanced by large-scale simulations in order to test how U-space services respond to maximum airspace capacity. Finally, project recommendations were further validated by simulating demonstrations in two additional locations in Europe, namely, Athens, Greece and Prague, Czech Republic. These demonstrations included passenger transport between hospitals and public spaces and transport of life-saving medical goods and equipment to the scene of incidents.

What will EU cities achieve through this project?

Thanks to SAFIR-Med EU cities will be enabled to:

  • Κeep up with relevant regulatory changes.
  • Ιnclude Urban Air Mobility in their urban development agendas.
  • Start using Urban Air Mobility technology for the benefit of their citizens.


The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under Grant Agreement No 101017701 and under the topic “SESAR-VLD2-03-2020: U-space capabilities and services to enable Urban Air Mobility”.

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