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The INVIRCAT project investigates innovative solutions for the safe and equal integration of remotely piloted aircraft systems in the terminal manoeuvering area and airport environments without entailing a significant impact on current airspace users. Suitable operational concept, procedures and technological enablers are defined by the project in order to guarantee the safety and efficiency of operations and the respect of capacity/throughput restrictions within TMA and airport environments.

The project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking as part of the SESAR 2020 Exploratory Research initiatives. 

SESAR 2020 is delivering advanced technological and operational solutions to increase the performance of the ATM system and aviation. The process is guided by an innovation pipeline through which the European ATM community can explore new ideas, validate them with industrial partners and then demonstrate their viability for implementation. INVIRCAT pertain to the second stage of the innovation pipeline, concerning the applied exploratory research. 

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Context and challenges

Why is the project relevant?

The aviation sector continues to grow, while new innovative technologies arise and seek entry into the airspace system.

According to recent aviation reports, a total of 38 million non-stop flights were recorded worldwide in 2018. Meanwhile, technological innovations enable higher levels of automation and are creating new business cases for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Urban Air Mobility vehicles. Several of these business cases imply integrating UAS, RPAS or Air Taxis with manned aviation in a joint airspace.

This includes as well the bottleneck of the current airspace system: the aerodrome environment.

While current initiatives and draft regulation are mainly focussing on drone applications in urban airspaces and in the very low level airspace (VLL), Europe's vision for aviation laid out that an increasing part of RPAS will be integrated into the controlled airspace, including TMA and airports by 2050.


Technological and operational requirements for IFR RPAS control in airports and TMAs is thus a key aspect to investigate not only be able to realize envisioned benefits, but also to cope with possible challenges. 

Objectives and activities

What to expect from the project?

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the operational concept

The project defines the complete operational concept for the IFR integration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft  Systems in the Terminal Manoeuvring Area of Airports, with a special focus on ATC procedures, flight planning processes, separation
requirements and necessary technical equipment to enable the new processes. 

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in real time simulations

The project validates 

its concept and requirements

by conducting real-time,

distributed simulations 

with shared virtual environments, involving ATC controllers and remote pilots.

These simulations

allow validating predefined assumptions, requirements and concepts for a complete flight process. 

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rule and standard makers 

The project aims at facilitating the integration of RPAS in the TMA through the generation of a harmonized CONOPS that takes past and on-going results of relevant activities into account. A set of conclusions and recommendations will be produced to help decision makers developing a harmonized approach for the RPAS integration in the TMA.

Related global activities and projects

What ongoing projects and initiatives are relevant to the project?

The project is consistent with wider global activities carried out by EASA, ICAO RPASP and EUROCAE and coordinates with other IR and ER SESAR projects addressing the broad topic of RPAS integration into civil airspace. 

If you are involved in a project/initiative concerning the same topic that is not listed below, please feel free to contact us.

We will be happy to explore synergies and possible cooperation. 



EASA has developed common European rules to ensure the free circulation of drones and a level playing field within. 

The approach is to apply the highest safety standards achieved in manned aviation to drones as well. The rules are based on an assessment of the risk of operation, and strike a balance between the obligations of drone manufacturers and operators in terms of safety, respect for privacy, the environment, protection against noise, and security.

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The Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panel (RPASP) coordinates and develops ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), Procedures and Guidance material for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), to facilitate a safe, secure and efficient integration of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) into non-segregated airspace and aerodromes.



The European UAS Standards Coordination Group (EUSCG) is a joint coordination and advisory group established to coordinate the UAS-related standardisation activities across Europe, essentially stemming from the EU regulations and EASA rulemaking initiatives.

The EUSCG provides a link to bridge the European activities to those at international level. 



The ERICA project is aimed at providing the basis for defining, developing and validating the key operational and technological enablers that are necessary to assure the proper insertion of RPAS into non-segregated airspace in terms of

collision avoidance for IFR RPAS  and IFR RPAS accommodation and integration in airspace Class A to C. 

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URCLeared is an EU-funded SESAR ER4 research project that studies and develops “Remain Well Clear” functions for safely integrating drones flights in class D-G airspaces. The performances of the remain well cleared function project starts are assessed in Fast Time and Real Time simulations.

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SAFELAND is an EU-funded SESAR ER4 research project aimed to support flight and landing of aircraft operated by a single pilot, in case of partial or total incapacitation of the pilot. It focuses on the ground side, specifically on the role ATM could have in managing the transition from a single pilot operated flight to a status with reduced or absent contribution of the on-board pilot to landing.

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The INVIRCAT Advisory Board consists of external experts and stakeholders with noteworthy and recognized expertise in the field of RPAS and RPAS integration as well as standardization. 

It also involves representatives having knowledge and expertise about the related global initiative and projects above mentioned. 

The advisory board acts as a consultation body and is intended to support the consortium by:

  • reviewing and steering the main project results, 

  • collecting and distributing open information from/to other  projects and/or initiatives that can be relevant for the project 

  • establishing connections with other related initiatives and projects 

The Advisory Board includes 30 members from 28 different organisations, which were clustered in 7 stakeholders categories: Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), Airport Operators, Airspace Users, Staff Associations, Industry, R&D Community, Decision-makers and Standard Setters.

The Advisory Board meets regularly in the course of the project, in order to ensure support in the production of the project key results. 

If you are involved in a project/initiative concerning the same topic and are interested in joining the Advisory Board, please feel free to contact us.

We will be happy to involve you as well. 

A large, noteworthy Advisory Board

to support and advise the consortium in carrying out the project 

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