Airbus Defence and Space

Security & Defence Press releases

Airbus Defence and Space and EADS Defence & Security selected by the European Defence Agency (EDA) to study integration of UAVs into civil airspace

  • Airbus Defence and Space Services will demonstrate the value of using satellite communications to enable UAVs to operate safely in civil airspace
  • Airbus Defence and Space will investigate the use of a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV to prove the operational feasibility of this integration


Brussels, 9 February 2010 - The European Defence Agency (EDA) has selected an Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Defence and Space (DS) consortium to lead a six-month study to demonstrate that by using satellite communications it is feasible to integrate UAVs into civil airspace. DS has more than 30 years of expertise in UAVs, and Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s largest space company, will determine how and what satellite-based services are needed to operate the UAVs safely in civil airspace.


“All teams involved are proud to be selected by the European Defence Agency in competition against top companies in this sector. This shows that our ability to develop synergies between civil, security and military applications is increasingly recognised. For Airbus Defence and Space this is an opportunity to develop our activities in the expanding UAV market”, said Eric Béranger, CEO Airbus Defence and Space, during the contract signature.


Today UAVs are only operating in segregated airspace for military operations. Integrating UAVs safely into civil airspace would enable them to be used to assist in a variety of civil and para-civil applications. These include maritime patrol, border surveillance, agricultural monitoring, weather/atmospheric data collection, and high-altitude geological and infrastructure mapping.


"Airbus Defence and Space, the leading manufacturer of UAVs in Europe, is proud to bring its expertise to this very important study under the leadership of the European Defence Agency. The outcome of this study will further reinforce our capability to propose leading-edge and secured solutions to our customers" said Bernhard Gerwert, CEO Military Air Systems, an integrated Business Unit of Airbus Defence and Space.


As part of the six-month feasibility study, the consortium will meet key European civil and military stakeholders. The purpose of these meetings will be to receive their endorsements on safety and regulatory policy, and on future applications. On completion of the study, EDA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are expected to jointly fund a demonstration programme.

In preparation of this demonstration, DS will investigate the possibility to fly a MALE UAV that will be controlled via a satellite communication link provided by Airbus Defence and Space. The two companies already collaborate in Afghanistan, where a Harfang UAV, developed by Airbus Defence and Space, is being operated by the French air force.


“Enabling the integration of UAVs into civil airspace fits within the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union. The Airbus Defence and Space and DS teams are combining their expertise for EDA and ESA, to help define with the European authorities what legislation will be required to assist in the development of UAV based innovative applications”, continued Eric Béranger, CEO Airbus Defence and Space.


The consortium comprises 11 members including Airbus Defence and Space, DS, QinetiQ, ISDEFE as well as IABG and combines the industrial capabilities of the leading specialists in UAVs, space-based telecommunications and air traffic management in France, the UK, Spain and Germany.


Notes to Editors:


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2008, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.3 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services.


About Airbus Defence and Space

DS is a systems solutions provider for armed forces and civil security worldwide. Its portfolio ranges from sensors and secure networks through missiles to aircraft and UAVs as well as global security, service and support solutions. In 2008, DS – with around 23,000 employees – achieved revenues of € 5.7 billion.


AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2008, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €43.3 billion and employed a workforce of more than 118, 000.



Press contacts:

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                      Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                              Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41

Theodor Benien (Airbus Defence and Space)                               Tel.: +49 (0) 8459 81 80485


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