Burdi Ongoing Project

2024 March
BURDI project is ongoing

The BURDI is an EU co-funding project, supported by SESAR 3JU, having the ambition of applying the new U-space regulation in all its aspects requiring a number of important Member State implementation choices which were intentionally left open by the EU regulator. The BURDI project will be used to make those choices based on a top-down approach but also a bottom-up approach involving relevant international, national and local stakeholders. In this first Newsletter, you will read that we already working hard to prepare implementation with regulatory activities as well as operational and technical development.



01 – What is U-space ? Why the BURDI project ?


Since 31st December 2020, UAS geographical zones were created in order to facilitate, to restrict or to exclude UAS operations in the areas concerned, addressing  risks pertaining to safety, privacy, protection of personnel data, security or the environment. Facing a stronger demand for UAS operations, more complex and more dense, the European regulator published in April 2021 a set of Implementing Rules related to U-space airspaces.

A U-space airspace is a UAS geographical zone designated by Member States, where UAS operations are only allowed to take place with the support of U-space services, provided by U-space service providers (USSP) :

  • 4 are mandatory : network identification, geo-awareness, UAS flight authorisation and traffic information services
  • 2 are potentially additional, depending of the airspace risk assessment outcomes : weather information and conformance and monitoring services


USSPs are supported by Common Information Service (CIS) providing to them all relevant operational data necessary for U-space services provision.


U-space airspaces can be designated within uncontrolled or controlled airspaces, following principles illustrated below.


This U-space ecosystem creates a emergent market that should be evaluated and demonstrated as reliable and sustainable. The BURDI project is one of the Digital Sky Demonstrators projects, co-funded by the European Union and supported by SESAR 3JU. The aim is to foster development of U-space.

The objectives of BURDI are :

  • Implementation of U-space airspace over Belgium taking into account the market analysis, the airspace risk assessment as well as the social acceptance and multilevel governance
  • Demonstration of one scalable U-space reference deployment in Belgium ensuring interoperability with ATM systems enabling operation scaling of multiple mature drone use cases


Started in November 2022, the BURDI project has made a lot of preparatory work, in several domains, to reach step by steps the defined goals. Now, we are coordinating between 18 partners to prepare and execute different relevant use cases including, among others :

  • Preparation of selected relevant use cases;
  • Definition of a set of performance indicators related to drone operations;
  • U-space airspace risk assessment.


All BURDI partners work hard coordinating with the National competent authority, as well with European regulator, to make this brand new regulated U-space airspace concept, a reality. Interested on, follow us on LinkedIn (BURDI.eu) or on our website (www.burdi.eu).



02 – First steps towards U-space over the Port of Antwerp-Bruges


Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights are authorised by BCAA over the Port of Antwerp-Bruges area since March 2023 without creating a dedicated reserved airspace but implementing specific mitigations measures within the existing UAS geographical zone, the “Antwerp Harbour Geozone”.


BVLOS flights can only be executed after submitting a Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA). SkeyDrone’s BVLOS Enablement Framework holds the key to reducing the initial Air Risk Category in the Port of Antwerp-Bruges. This framework has been recognized as a “safe to fly” risk-mitigating framework, paving the way for many other drone operators to conduct scalable BVLOS flights in congested airspaces and high-risk environments. The Airspace Risk Assessment (ARA) of the future U-space airspace will be executed on the same mitigating measures.


These BVLOS flights are conducted by D-Hive, a consortium of DroneMatrix, a drone manufacturer, Proximus, a telco service provider, and SkeyDrone, with a drone-in-a-box system called YACOB, equipped with artificial intelligence, directly on board, for live interpretation and evaluation of images. 30 different use cases have been defined. A key use case is the early detection of oil spill pollution, which is a daily worry of harbours. UAS-driven inspection, impact calculation and automation take the detection of oil spills to the next level. The automation of the escalation for both cleaning and damage claims is saving time & money and are creating a safer harbour environment.

Other important use cases include the inspection of berthing and mooring of ships, and the control of ship emissions.


SkeyDrone provides a traffic information “service” to the drone operator, to detect both manned and unmanned aviation and provide the pilot with collision avoidance and conformance monitoring features, fostering a “pre U-space” environment towards implementation of a full U-space airspace within the framework of the BURDI project.


The development of SkeyDrone’s BVLOS framework has been a key contributor to the future development of U-space services within the BURDI project. A lesson learned is that drone operators may need consultancy to be able to fully complete a SORA. Furthermore, it also became clear that in the harbour area, in the context of U-space, the traffic information service should also include the AIS tracks from ships, evolving the service to the so-called 4D situational awareness.



03 – Airspace Risk Assessment and Coordination Mechanism


One of the objectives of the BURDI project is to designate the very first U-space airspaces over the Belgium territory, enabling more dense and complex drone operations. In addition to the operational requirements that we have to apply in compliance with the U-space regulation, before each and every designation of a U-space airspace, it is required to perform an airspace risk assessment in safety, security, privacy and environmental domains and to establish a coordination mechanism with other (aviation and non-aviation)  authorities and entities concerned.


The airspace risk assessment should consider air and ground risks in order to adequately mitigate related identified hazards. This assessment is an operational evaluation of the envisaged drone operations to be conducted in the U-space airspace. During this exercise, you should identify hazards, evaluate the likelihood and the severity of harmful effects of them. Then, the mitigation actions that should be taken when necessary to ensure an acceptable risk level should be defined. This airspace risk assessment was done using as a basis, the “U-space airspace risk assessment method and guideline – Volume 1” edited by EUROCONTROL in April 2023.



Thus, BURDI partners are performing the very first airspace risk assessment related to the expected first U-space airspace designated over the Port of Antwerp-Bruges area.

This airspace risk assessment should allow to derive the proper U-space airspace design, USSP performance requirements, required drone capabilities and other constraints required to enable safe operations.


In parallel, under the responsibility of the Competent authority, establishment of a coordination mechanism is ongoing, seeking early consultation and alignment of concerned parties. According to the regulation, a coordination mechanism should address multi-party public, institutional and private stakeholders participation and consultation and shall consider local, regional and national levels in accordance with the national governance model. Consultation could cover multiple domains (e.g. airports, environment, defence, security, airspace users, drone operators, citizens). As it is a new regulation, the format of any coordination mechanism is strongly linked to national structures and practices. In Belgium, the BURDI project is used as a test case, aiming to pilot consultation processes with interested parties and explore schemes for practical multi-level governance in the BURDI geographical areas. Interested parties should be all the parties that could be affected by the U-space airspace, in some way.


Outcomes of airspace risk assessment and coordination mechanism have to be considered together before initial designation of a U-space airspace.



04 – BURDI conference – 1 February 2024, Port of Antwerp


On 1st of February 2024, BURDI held a conference in the Port House of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges to show the importance of the BURDI project and the progress the Partners have made until now in creating and implementing a U-space reference design. As was demonstrated during the day,
BVLOS flights already take place in the Port of Antwerp in conjunction with regular port business going on and during normal operational hours.

Intense and very practical discussions took place with stakeholders and end-users from the infrastructure and medical field. During this conference day, BURDI partners showed not just how to fly a drone in an uncontrolled airspace, but how a U-space could be implemented in a busy real-life environment such as a big port.

During the event, a number of interviews were conducted and published subsequently on LinkedIn, greatly raising the traffic on the BURDI social media account.





BURDI Partners