1. Home
  2. News Releases
  3. Back Issues
  4. April FY2023
  5. New International Standards for Traffic Control Systems for Drones Issued Based on Contributions from Japan

New International Standards for Traffic Control Systems for Drones Issued Based on Contributions from Japan

To Realize Safe and Efficient Drone Traffic (ISO 23629-5)

April 27, 2023

In order to ensure the secure, safe, and efficient utilization of drones, it is necessary to manage information on their flight plans (when and in what route they are flown), and their dynamic information (where they are currently flying). In particular, when multiple drones are flown, it is necessary to implement coordination so that their flight plans do not overlap, and monitoring on a real-time basis so that drones do not come too close to one another, with the aim of preventing collisions. A traffic control system facilitates such coordination.

International standards have been newly issued to set out the structure of the functions of such systems and provide definitions of terms. This enables international unification of the roles to be assumed by these systems, the necessary information, and relevant terms.

With the aging of the population and labor shortages, Japan is also leading the way in the development of international standards for the various applications of drones, such as logistics and inspections. The developing international standards is expected to further development of technology and the growth of relevant industries.

1. Background

The coming into effect of the amended Civil Aeronautics Act on December 5, 2022, lifted the ban on non-visual flights (level 4)* of drones in manned areas. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has been engaged in supporting proposals for international standardization covering R&D, required functions, and the definition of relevant terms regarding UTM (UAS traffic management) systems, for widespread realization of drones in Japan and abroad, in line with recent trends.

2. Outline of the international standard

ISO 23629-5 UAS traffic management (UTM) — Part 5: UTM Functional Structure, issued on April 26, is an international standard on UTM with the role of sharing information on all drone aircraft flying within a certain airspace and supporting the prevention of collisions.

UTM undertakes various roles, including the identification of aircraft and their operators and supporting safe flights taking account of the surrounding environment. In addition, it handles a wide range of information, including the flight routes of drones, dynamic information of drones, registration information of aircraft and their operators, and airspace, terrain, and weather information. However, the roles to be assumed by UTM, the necessary information, and relevant terms were not unified internationally, impeding the smooth progress of discussion.

Therefore, this international standard categorizes the functions necessary for UTM as follows, streamlining the structure and interrelation of different functions and the definitions of terms.

This international standard is based on the outcome of the Project for Achieving an Energy-Conserving Society in which Robots and Drones Play Important Roles, which the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has led since 2017. Japan took the lead in these discussions in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

3. Expected benefits

By referring to this international standard, people engaged in these services will be able to use terms with the same meaning throughout the world. This will contribute to minimizing perception gaps that hinder discussions. Further, because it facilitates the reaching of a common understanding on the functions and structure of UTM, it is expected to improve the efficiency of discussions. Thus, the standard will accelerate the technological development of UTM itself and of drones, and the growth of relevant industries.

METI will continue to cooperate with drone business operators, industry groups, and relevant ministries and agencies to promote dissemination of the standard.

*Notes: Drone flights are classified into categories from 1 to 4. Level 4 means an automatic flight of a drone in a range out of the view of the operators in an airspace over a densely populated area (above any third party). On December 5, 2022, the Act Partially Amending the Civil Aeronautics Act and Other Legislation came into effect, which allows level 4 drone flights.

Related Links

Divisions in Charge

International standards

International Standardization Division, Industrial Science, Technology and Environment Policy Bureau

Project for Achieving an Energy-Conserving Society in which Robots and Drones Play Important Roles

Advanced Air Mobility Office, Industrial Machinery Division Manufacturing Industries Bureau