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Call: Smart applications for transport- SESAR-DEMONSTRATORS U - works

Acronym CEF-T
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Connecting Europe Facility for Transport"

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for Transport is the funding instrument to realise European transport infrastructure policy. It aims at supporting investments in building new transport infrastructure in Europe or rehabilitating and upgrading the existing one.

Trans-European Networks for Transport (TEN-T) policy objectives foresee:

  • completion by 2030 of the Core Network, structured around nine multimodal Core Network Corridors.
  • completion by 2050 of the Comprehensive Network in order to facilitate accessibility to all European regions

CEF Transport focuses on cross-border projects and projects aiming at removing bottlenecks or bridging missing links in various sections of the Core Network and on the Comprehensive Network (link), as well as for horizontal priorities such as traffic management systems.

CEF Transport also supports innovation in the transport system in order to improve the use of infrastructure, reduce the environmental impact of transport, enhance energy efficiency and increase safety.

Link Link to Programme
Smart applications for transport- SESAR-DEMONSTRATORS U - works
Description of call
"Smart applications for transport- SESAR-DEMONSTRATORS U - works"


The Digital Sky Demonstrators (DSD) on U-space and urban air mobility, supported by the new regulatory framework and a set of new standards, will support the implementation of U1/U2 services across Europe ensuring safety and interoperability. U-space will have to integrate seamlessly with the ATM system to ensure safe and fair access to airspace for all airspace users.

U-space is expected to have a profound socio-economic impact, enabling the creation of a new marketplace for U-space service provision and accelerating the advent of the drone and urban air mobility economy. The objective of the digital sky demonstrators is to accelerate the transition towards deployment of a number of U-space services and capabilities:

  • Environment: U-space shall not increase the environmental footprint of the air transportation system. Specific metrics will be defined, tailored to the U-space environment and the types of vehicles operating within it (most of them are expected to be zero emissions aircraft). Special consideration should be given to the noise impact of low-level operations enabled by U-space. The growing use of zero-emission UAVs enabled by U-space may also contribute to reducing the environmental footprint of the overall transportation system, for example by reducing road traffic levels.
  • Passenger experience: In terms of passenger experience and overall socio-economic contribution, U-space will enable and accelerate the drone economy, opening the way to new services (delivery, inspection, security, UAM, etc.) that will increase the wellbeing of European citizens. U-space will foster the development of a new high-tech economic sector in Europe, leading to wealth and job creation. Particular attention must, however, be paid to safeguarding privacy and ensuring social acceptance.
  • Capacity: U-space shall not negatively affect the capacity of the ATM system and will enable additional system capacity by enabling large volumes of unmanned aircraft to access the airspace. Specific capacity metrics shall be defined for U-space defined in terms of safety or other concerns such as noise.
  • Cost efficiency: U-space shall not negatively affect the cost of providing ATM services. Specific cost-efficiency metrics shall be defined for U-space, focusing on the cost of delivering U-space services.
  • Operational efficiency: U-space shall substantially reduce the costs of operating unmanned aircraft in the European airspace and will not negatively affect the operating costs of other airspace users. Specific operational efficiency metrics shall be defined for U-space, including fairness aspects.
  • Safety: U-space shall not negatively affect the safety of the ATM system. Specific safety metrics shall be defined for U-space,
  • Security: U-space shall not negatively affect the security of the ATM system. Cybersecurity will be a key area to consider in U-space, especially regarding the interaction (data exchange) between U-space services and ATM systems.


Themes and priorities:

To successfully address the expected outcomes, all or some of the following sub-R&I needs should be addressed:

  • Market Uptake of U1 and U2 U-space services: U1 includes services such as registration, remote identification and geo-fencing; U2 encompasses services such as flight planning, flight approval, tracking, and the basic interface with conventional air traffic control. This demonstration includes the final definition of the safety and performance requirements of U1 and U2 services, based on their demonstration and pilot implementation in an integrated environment. Service definition shall include nominal and contingency situations. This addresses as well:
    • U1 and U2 U-space services architecture, cross-border interoperability and standardization: includes close coordination with ICAO and EASA to ensure global interoperability. Also includes full mechanisms for interoperability with manned aviation (ATC and other AUs), as well as contingencies. In these activities, the focus is on the definition of the services and the interoperability requirements in support of an open architecture, rather than the requirements of the services themselves. The output will contribute to the standardization of U-space services.
    • Multiple basic U-space services: Although descriptions of many services exist at U1, U2 levels, different U-space architecture options still require to be further developed to ensure meeting the full range of requirements by the different types of operations and guarantee safe and secure interoperability. In particular, one of the challenges is to enable the simultaneous operations of multiple U-space service providers (USSP) in the same airspace.
    • Legal and financial aspects of U-space at U1 and U2 level: detailed look at the legal and financial aspects of U1 and U2 U-space operations, including normal and aviation law, also covering safety and security issues, liability issues, certification issues and U-space services financing models. This is a transversal activity, which will need to get input from the two previous research activities.
    • Support to deployments and regulation: Integrated demonstrations of U-space services: potentially starting with demonstration in a controlled environment (U-space test centres), and then moving on to the real environment

The objective of these demonstrations is to ensure that the service definition is coordinated across Europe and that early movers are incentivised in order to accelerate the uptake (R&I need: Mature basic U-space services).

  • Demonstration of U-space/ATC interoperability: building on the previous validation activities, this element covers the demonstration of advance U-space/ATC interoperability concept, including in particular demonstration of simultaneous and safe provision of ATC and U-space services in the same airspace. This could also cover the transfer of U-space operational concepts or technologies to ATM or the transfer or ATM concepts or technologies to U-space (R&I need: ATM/U-space integration).
  • Demonstration on U-space for UAM: Urban Air Mobility (UAM) refers to the provision of mobility services in an urban environment using air vehicles, which encompass everything from manned helicopters, as currently flown, through small inspection and delivery drones to ‘flying taxis’, with or without a pilot. The demonstrations shall aim at showcasing concepts that contribute to safely integrate UAM with manned aviation and air traffic control, defining new operational concepts (underpinned by existing and new technologies) while contributing to the definition of the required standards and regulations (e.g. recommendations for associated means of compliance). The demonstrations shall perform a significant number of flights, in coordination with relevant stakeholders; they could use one or more eVTOL platforms (or advanced prototypes), potentially including vehicles with fully autonomous capabilities, or could be limited to manned helicopters or non eVTOL drones subject to UAM (in the event eVTOL are not mature). Close coordination with EASA is required to ensure complementarity and consistency with EASA activities (R&I need: Urban Air Mobility).

Activities that can be funded:

The activities shall address up to TRL-8. This covers:

  • TRL-7 System demonstration in an operational environment (ground, airborne or space): The system is at or near scale of the operational system, with most functions available for demonstration and test and with EASA proof of concept authorisation if necessary. Well integrated with collateral and ancillary systems, although limited documentation available.
  • TRL-8 Actual system completed and "mission qualified" through test and demonstration in an operational environment (ground or airborne): End of system development. Fully integrated with relevant operational systems (people, processes, hardware and software), most user documentation, training documentation, and maintenance documentation completed. All functionality tested in simulated and operational scenarios. Verification, Validation (V&V) and Demonstration completed, regulatory needs and standards are finalised.

Standardisation and Regulatory activities

The demonstrators shall be closely connected to the standardisation and regulatory activities. Early engagement with the regulator during the demonstration process can significantly de-risk subsequent issues related to regulatory needs, approvals, safety assessments etc. for the SESAR solutions under scope. With this in mind EASA and/or NSA involvement through the partners shall be envisaged at the level of advising on the suitability of the safety assessments as well as risk and hazard identification and mitigation approaches required for the solution. The potential need for future rulemaking to support the eventual implementation of the solution shall be identified along with the development of standards through the EUROCAE process. The work of the project shall then be appropriately focused on delivering the material that could form the basis for this standardisation and regulatory development.

The following two specific deliverables addressing the regulatory activities and standards will have to be provided by the Digital Sky Demonstrators in order to guarantee the adequate consideration by the projects of the needs to coordinate closely with EASA and EUROCAE:

  • REG: proposed SESAR Acceptable Means of Compliance to EASA to illustrate means to establish compliance with the Basic Regulation and its Implementing Rules;
  • STAND: proposed SESAR Input to Standardisation activities (e.g. EUROCAE).

Airspace Users contribution

The proposed topic will require the contribution from Airspace Users (AUs). It is expected that the proposals will therefore include the required AU contribution.

Expected Impact:

Demonstrators will take place in live operational environments and put to the test the concepts, services, technologies and standards necessary to deliver the digital European sky. This will help create buy-in from the supervisory authorities and operational staff, providing tangible evidence of the performance benefits in terms of environment, capacity, safety, security and affordability.

The establishment of a Europe-wide network of large-scale digital sky demonstrators offers a viable means to build confidence and bridge from research, through industrialisation to implementation.

The Digital Sky Demonstrators shall deliver their full results no later than end of Q3 2025. Projects should normally range up to 36 months (extensions are possible, if duly justified and through an amendment).

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Mobility & Transport/Traffic , Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Public Services, Other, National Government, Start Up Company, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details Proposals shall be submitted by:
  • one or more EU Member States 
  • by international organisations, joint undertakings, or public or private undertakings or bodies established in Member States  (with the agreement of the Member States concerned).

In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:

  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))
    • third countries associated to the CEF.

Specific cases:

  • Entities from other countries are exceptionally eligible for projects of common interest in the field of transport, energyand digital and for cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy, if the granting authority considers their participation essential for the implementation of the action.
  • Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legalpersonality separate from that of the natural person).
  • International organisations are eligible. The rules on eligible countries do not apply to them.
  • Entities without legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guaranteesfor the protection of the EU financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons.
  • EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.
Recurring Call No
Project duration max 36 months
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (to be uploaded):
    • detailed budget table per WP (template available in the Submission System)
    • activity reports of last year
    • list of previous projects (key projects for the last 4 years) (template available in Part B)
    • timetable/Gantt chart
    • agreement by the concerned Member States (letters of support)
    • environmental compliance file (for works and for studies with physical interventions)
Page limit - part B: 120 pages
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details

The available call budget for Actions related to smart and interoperable mobility – General envelope (CEF-T-2021-SIMOBGEN) is EUR 400,000,000.

The costs will be reimbursed at the funding rates fixed in the Grant Agreement (maximum 50% for the costs of studies, maximum 70% for the costs of works in outermost regions and maximum 50% for all other costs categories (‘project funding rate’)).

Maximum EU-contribution: For the Digital Sky Demonstrators on U-space and urban air mobility the maximum EU requested contribution per proposal is limited at EUR 7 Mio.

Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.
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