The JARUS document, which is currently an internal draft version, was developed to provide a detailed overview of the various factors involved in aviation safety and a structured framework for stakeholders to address the complexities and opportunities of automation in an airspace environment while maintaining safety standards.

The whitepaper addresses automation in the airspace environment from four perspectives: flight rules evolution, airspace structure adaptation, infrastructure changes and technology maturity considerations. The original document is 44 pages of technical information which has been detailed and further explained for a broader audience in the following document.

Executive Summary

The JARUS Automation Work Group built on the initial work from the former JARUS Concept Development Work Group to develop an automation concept in the airspace environment.

The paper highlights the complex nature of airspace, aircraft automation and air traffic services. It aims to provide a general understanding of the challenges when making recommendations in operations, airworthiness, and safety risk management for other JARUS work as automation increases.

With the increased automation developments in airspace that apply to all operational categories, the paper does not redefine the existing JARUS Operational Concept but rather offers additional considerations for each operational category necessitating recommendations for technical, safety and operational requirements for the integration of UAS.

While the document acknowledges the impact automation has on aviation security, it does not provide any specific recommendations. The main focus provides suggestions on areas where recommendations for automation into airspace could potentially be introduced without defining any projects to any specific JARUS groups.

The Automation Work Group is currently maintaining a dialogue with other work groups to align with their existing content and planned efforts. The future decisions for work assignments will fall to the respective JARUS groups, and the JARUS Plenary will approve them.

1. Flight Rules


Air Traffic Management (ATM) ensures an efficient and safe traffic flow within an airspace. This is done by monitoring and directing aircraft, managing air-to-ground communication, providing real-time information to operators, and activating emergency procedures when necessary. 

With the dynamic nature of the airspace ecosystem, it is necessary to accommodate changes within ATM and aerodromes systems. The expected growth of airspace users may strain the current human-centric methodologies, which necessitates a need for automated routine operations. To ensure the most efficient and safe methods are implemented, current flight rules must be re-evaluated. These existing rules are based on maintaining safe separation and navigation using Visual Flight Rules (VFR) or Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), which mostly rely on human pilots. With the inclusion of uncrewed aircraft operations and the potential of airspace system automation, there is a need to consider new flight rules to support the increase in automated aircraft operations.

1.2 Regulatory Environment

The majority of ICAO’s work related to new entrants is currently focused on non-passenger-carrying Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) that operate in Instrumental Flight Rule (IFR) environments. With the ongoing development of advanced air mobility concepts, such as low altitude operations or high density urban operations, there is a need for additional framework to support these ventures.

Without a regulatory framework in place for operations such as UAS parcel deliveries or AAM on a global scale, there is a risk that the operations will not be harmonised, which in turn will affect manufacturers and operators. 

As more new entrants arrive and existing air operators begin to invest in new entrants themselves, the emphasis is on integrating these use cases into the airspace rather than simply accommodating them. 

The integration process must be supported by a global regulatory framework to include digital information sharing and the consideration of automation to optimise safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness. One of the current challenges for regulators is the need for expert resources and consulting services to support the processes for new entrants, technology and automated systems into selected airspace. 

Murzilli Consulting’s Airspace Services provides multiple consultation services for airspace modernisation, airspace optimisation, airspace management, airspace integration and air traffic data management schemes. This includes the four building blocks: airspace studies, air risk management, feasibility and use case definition, for airspace, airspace modernisation and implementation, airspace technology implementation and additional customised services to support the regulatory process.

1.3 Future Airspace Characteristics

According to the JARUS Whitepaper on the Automation of the Airspace Environment, there are currently three fundamental weaknesses in the airspace system when addressing new entrants:

Additionally, the current airspace is used at capacity, which means that unforeseen circumstances, such as weather conditions, can cause delays. Considering the increasing needs of the airspace users, the airspace system must be redeveloped. 

1.3.1 Digital Information Sharing

To address the above-mentioned weaknesses, the document proposes changes so that users can access up-to-date data and information, move towards management by exception rather than by permission paradigm and turn away from static airspace classification in favour of developing a dynamic airspace system based on demand, user equipage and aircraft performance with assistance from automated systems.

Digital information sharing and automation promote a more coordinated approach to the airspace environment. Sharing operational and aircraft performance information between airspace users and service providers will prevent traffic congestion and collisions using an interactive planning system. This entails the ability to capture and analyse data from operating aircraft and predict ahead of time the current or previously flown path. NASA’s proposed Digital Flight Rules are aimed at increasing the efficiency of airspace management, in particular, areas with selective application in defined airspace.

1.3.2 Management by Exception

Autonomous aircraft and corresponding systems can only be achieved by meeting specific requirements and conditions. This involves evolving the current onboard and ground human-led operations, which require rapid response and alertness to automation, which allows humans to take on strategic supervision roles in the system. 

1.3.3 Alternative Classification of Airspace - demand & performance-based operations

Airspace is currently organised in classes designed to support a static system corresponding to a level of service. An automated system would entail aircraft assessment and operation based on equipage and performance characteristics, which may result in specific available services and required equipage not needing to be provided. With a more flexible use of airspace, services can be developed to support operational needs instead of being classified based on the available services.

1.3.4 Roles, Responsibilities, Behaviours and Expectations

The roles and responsibilities of the ATC and operators will evolve as the future of automation within the airspace continues to develop. This adaptation process will rely on regulators, ANSPs, operators, and customers' trust and, therefore, acceptance that automation can effectively handle sequencing and separation tasks in increasingly complex and dense airspace environments.

1.4 Flight Rules for Future Operations

1.4.1 Flight Rules and New Entrants

Flight rules cover various aspects within the airspace, such as where and how operators fly, equipment requirements, performance levels and support infrastructure for operational safety and efficiency. 

Digital information-sharing systems and other automated systems will replace some human processes in safe separation and navigation. This will allow operators to manage their aircraft using ground and onboard automation and assume increased responsibility for separation and trajectory management. ATM systems will shift from aircraft separation responsibilities to providing limited safety oversight with well-defined contingencies. 

An additional flight rule, referred to in the JARUS whitepaper as Enhanced Flight Rules (EFR), aims to enable operations in shared airspace while maintaining the minimum safety requirements. It was designed with a similar flexibility to VFR, with access in all weather conditions and potentially replacing VFR operations in specific airspaces. During the transition to a full EFR implementation, new obligations and equipment requirements may be introduced to ensure integration safety.

1.4.2 Implementation

Once a starting proposal for EFR is drafted by the regulatory community and industry, it can be communicated to ICAO for further analysis assessment in support of the ICAO AAM SG. For a global consensus for EFR, there are several issues that need to be addressed:

To verify the safety and performance of a new system and flight regime, a parallel implementation could be used in an airspace volume or region. This will give controllers a comparison environment to oversee how the automation and systems interact with real-time traffic, system errors, output systems and error margins.

1.4.3 Air/Ground Capabilities

Automated detect-and-avoid capabilities are vital for situations where communications are lost without any human intervention. In the case that human intervention is required, the operator will be responsible with the assistance of the aircraft technology. Systems such as electronic conspicuity and automated obstacle avoidance are crucial for safe separation and collision avoidance. 

Digital sharing of data and information facilitates safe operation for all aircraft, in particular, providing the aircraft location and intent which will be required for all types of operators. Additionally, with the increased advances in communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) technology, the concept that separation services must be primarily provided externally could be challenged. 

At lower altitudes, the UTM service providers will be able to provide real-time information to UA operators, while for RPA IFR operations, the RPA will be required to provide the ATC with ID, intent and telemetry information using an information exchange link. 

It can be possible for strategic de-confliction and dynamic airspace allocation to facilitate operations without regular operator and ATC intervention, with digitally coordinated access. This may be subject to authorisation and could be adopted in a more widespread manner as more aircraft meet the operational requirements.

2. Airspace Structure

2.1 Introduction

The current airspace classification system uses service types and flight rules, which prove to be challenging when it comes to accommodating new entrants such as UAS operations, in particular very low-level (VLL) or high-altitude operations (HAO).

Implementing a digitally automated, performance-based system will support the future airspace evolution by minimising segregation. Allowing system-centric automation to manage previously human-centric tasks will standardise the overall system performance. This requires coordination between airspace user automation levels and allowances.

High-level automation using electronic conspicuity for safe separation and ground support systems may allow the roles of air traffic controllers and pilots to become more flexible. During this transition process, the responsibilities for maintaining airspace safety will require a clear redefinition to maintain standards.

2.2 Regulatory Environment

The ICAO Annex 11 details the ATS scope and objectives. These, however, may need to be reviewed to include specifications for UAS operations due to the fact that they operate pilot and passenger-free as well as their risk-based operation classifications.

The existing components for all ATM/UTM structures can be found in ICAO DOC 9854 Global Air Traffic Management Operational Concept and include:

To implement the required flexible and scalable traffic management systems to accommodate crewed and uncrewed aircraft, there needs to be varying levels of automation onboard and on the ground. For advanced air traffic management systems, communication between traditional ATM-managed airspace and new entrants like UTM must be aligned. 

Traffic classified as managed or unmanaged will rely on the conflict management systems provided. Managed traffic will be directed with only one unambiguously identifiable separator at any one time. This may be a combined effort of human and automated systems.

Interoperable collision avoidance systems are crucial for maintaining airspace safety and addressing any failures of the separation provision.

2.3 Automation Level Group ALG

Automation is the necessary step to enable the considerations for optimising the airspace structure. JARUS classification for automation is in 6 levels (0-5), which are grouped together with similar characteristics to maintain maximum safety levels within an airspace environment.

As shown in JARUS Doc 21 Figure 1, Table 1, several characteristics are listed and allocated in the different levels. This makes the process easier to identify which areas require a human/machine combination, which are fully autonomous and which must be manually controlled.

According to these parameters, three automation level groups (ALG) have been identified:

2.4 Future Airspace Characteristics

The airspace structure should account for operational predictability, traffic management, and automation levels to ensure safe aircraft interoperation.

2.4.1 Considerations for Traffic Environment

The traffic environment of the airspace is crucial in the implementation of management concepts. In particular, the difference between a known and unknown airspace traffic environment.

As services are developed and deployed, the environment should become more known, taking the UTM/U-Space construct as an example. New services such as UTM/U-space will allow aircraft to be more aware of the presence of other traffic to ensure everyone within the airspace knows what is happening in real-time and can take the appropriate measures.

2.4.2 Considerations for the Conflict Management Environment

One major factor to consider in ensuring airspace safety is an effective communication method. Clear communication must be available to all operators ahead of mission planning and within airspaces where there is a lack of services or service outages.

2.4.3 Considerations for Segregated Environments

There is an expectation that air traffic should be segregated by equipment, automation level or aircraft type to better evaluate system performances and predict managed traffic. This raises the concern that each segregation environment needs to be clearly marked and maintained during operation. Any technology or procedures specific to these segregated environments, such as Geo-fencing or minimum navigation performance, must be thoroughly detailed to avoid any additional safety hazards.   

2.4.4 Considerations for Interim Solutions

To efficiently redesign an airspace, there must be certain considerations to create an environment that not only accommodates disruptive technology but also allows for it to be blended into traditional systems. These considerations can include advancements which allow for the changes to be incremental or modular, but the overall goal should be to develop the performance expectations while defining the services and their limitations of the airspace.

2.4.5 Considerations for Controlled Airspace

Conflict Management Services (CMS) enable traffic to maintain separation inside controlled airspace; therefore, traffic must be able to interoperate predictably with these services. This means that operators need to know to what degree the services can be automated to maintain safety and efficiency throughout the duration of their operation.

The example is given that each ALG Controlled Legacy, Controlled Machine-aided or Controlled Automated can be added to an existing airspace. In this case, the interoperability of aircraft equipment and operational infrastructure must be ensured when blending the automation environments.

2.4.6 Considerations for Uncontrolled Airspace

While predictable and unpredictable traffic can operate in uncontrolled airspace, CMS may not be provided. In these instances, operational safety falls to the operators and pilots.

Some machine-aided systems are predicted to be implemented as systems evolve and improve in the future.

2.5 Services

The services deployed to achieve ATM objectives will vary according to the level of automation. For example, the CMS objective to limit the risk of collision between aircraft and hazards can be achieved via different levels of automation according to the service provider and the user characteristics. With consideration of ALG aircraft from different groups, operating in the same airspace. They will have access to the same services, but the delivery mechanism for the service will vary to match the higher or lower level of automation for the group.

With the issue of interconnectivity and potential changes in automation during flight, systems and procedures are required to monitor and react to any changes in the automation capability of the services and aircraft. 

Additionally, airspace performance requirements, such as CNS performance, must align with service objectives and may be derived from system analysis of the automated airspace environment.

2.6 Separator

Clear definitions of who is responsible for maintaining aircraft separation in each airspace will be a crucial factor in automated operations. As per the ICAO Concept, airspace users may be designated as separators under certain conditions; the delegations will be temporary and subject to specific requirements.

The separator can potentially be the airspace user, a service provider or automated service, depending on which solution would be the best fit for a given situation.

3. Infrastructure

To scale automated aviation operations, considerations to the supporting aviation infrastructure must be made. Traditional aviation operations require several types of infrastructure for various purposes  (as shown in the infographic below), which is centralised in aerodromes and ATM systems for many jurisdictions.

The various capabilities within a specific operational area must be properly coordinated in order to aid in flight and contingency planning. There also needs to be a common understanding of the available infrastructure, services, and limitations to support operations.

The different capabilities that exist in a particular operational area need to be well coordinated to aid in flight & contingency planning – there is a need to have common understanding of the available infrastructure, services, and operational limitations to support domestic and international operations. 

Evaluation of equipage requirements for aircraft in specific operational areas is extremely important, and infrastructure providers will be required to provide timely updates to operators on outages or limitations.

Civil aviation authorities, air navigation service providers and industry partners may benefit from a flexible and scalable cloud service infrastructure to support highly automated operations like UTM at scale to support a range of connectivity between stakeholders.

JARUS mentions using the risk-based approach as defined in JARUS UAS Operational Categorisation 10, which includes risk factors and specific mitigations while considering approving operations.

3.1 Aerodrome Operations

Currently, many commercial UAS operate without the fixed infrastructure used in traditional aviation, which typically limits them to Category A operations. Applying fixed infrastructure, such as vertipads/places or hubs as operators scale-up, will give them the possibility to expand automation within flight operations.

While capabilities are required to support both automated flight and automated facility management, the document only focuses on automated flight. These are mainly related to the crucial phases of flight: taxi, take-off, and landing, as well as maintaining and understanding the interactions between the aerodrome and the aircraft.

Traditional separation between ground systems and aircraft systems will continue to be challenged by UAS operations, but these types of operations will also offer the chance for capabilities to be distributed while on board and on ground. As these opportunities progress, they will be required to be clearly outlined prior to aircraft authorisation with the required infrastructure.

It is interesting to note that the ICAO Aerodrome Design and Operations Panel and the ICAO RPAS Panel are currently studying operations at certified aerodromes. These are considered to be a starting point for developing aerodrome technical designs, and how the impact of automation may affect standardisation.

3.2 Traffic Management Systems

In traditional aviation, traffic management systems make up the majority of the ground-based infrastructure. With automation, these systems can be modernised, and some have already been automated, including features within surveillance systems.

Several automated operation components are needed to support all airspace users, including ground, air and space. These components require automated systems and autonomous decision-making to maintain flight safety for the future. 

There are currently technologies being developed to support all categories of automated aircraft operation. These technologies, as they mature, follow a similar pattern to that of aircraft technology and, as they develop further and prove their capabilities, will transition from low-risk to higher-risk operational environments. 

3.3 Considerations for Infrastructure Design

With future airspace operations such as AAM and high-altitude operations, the design of the automated infrastructure and how it will impact the scope and limitations on approval of certain operations must be considered. The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Subterranean challenge established a set of principles for operational architectures to create a reliable coordinated network of airborne autonomous systems which are summarised below.

3.3.1 Modularity by Design

Modular designs enable more flexibility within the operational ecosystem. This table reflects the benefits from three perspectives:

3.3.2 Uncertainty-Aware Architecture

Airspace system management architecture should be designed to recognise the degree of uncertainty among shared or unshared data. The criteria and infrastructure must consider the uncertainty in the design process:

4. Technology Maturity

4.1 Introduction

Automation technologies, their maturity and their relevance to the airspace ecosystem are constantly evolving along with the regulatory roadmap to have them approved. To assist with this process, the following sections outline the development and acceptance of technology in an increasingly operational environment.

4.2 Problem Dimensions

There are three points that must be considered to ensure that automated technologies are integrated safely.

1. Which functions are automated, what is their technology maturity level and to what degree do they impact the operation’s safety?

2. What is the risk level of the operational environment? A lower risk area can provide more flexibility in deploying a less mature technology whereas a high risk area requires technology in it’s most mature state for safe integration.

3. How resilient is the system design and operation? More resilient architectures, such as fail-safe and run-time assurance, can allow for less mature technology to be safely deployed.

Using the figure as a guide, it can be shown that each problem dimension is not isolated. The figure corresponds to a DAA example that while an operational environment defines the initial risk, the automation of functions may rely on the available infrastructure and equipage requirements. This means that all automated systems must clearly outline the expectations and limitations for a safe integration into an airspace. The combination of the limitations and correct level of safety assurance oversight (assessed by the operational risk assessment) can provide intel on whether the required technology is mature enough for the operation.


4.2.1 Automation Levels

The whitepaper refers to JARUS Doc 21 and describes the approach to automation levels with a focus on the interaction between human and machine and each one’s responsibilities and areas of control. It states that the systems themselves aren’t automated, but rather, the functions that make up the systems are automated. With this explanation, JARUS intends to guide the community in better understanding the levels of automation.

Each automated function must have a clear outline of its structure and interconnection, in particular to its operational architecture to see how automation impacts overall safety critical functions, including automation at its lowest functional level to enable a thorough evaluation.

These automation levels must be understood, and each one followed carefully by both operators and regulators as not all stages of each level may be fully automated. For this, a methodical model must be used to identify which areas are possible for automation today and which areas do not have mature enough technology and require human involvement. 

Technological maturity and the potential automation level are determined by the operational risk. Lower-risk operations can be managed by operational procedures such as emergency response plans which provide an opportunity for less mature technology to be implemented. As the risk environment increases, so does the impact of functional failures. This means that in a high-risk environment, an automated function needs to provide a higher level of technological maturity to allow for function failure within the operation’s safety limitations.

4.2.2 Operational Risk

Operational risk is the main factor in assessing and approving technology for aviation operations. JARUS categorises its operational risk framework in increasing order using Category A, B, and C, as seen in the JARUS Doc 09.

Operational risk is used to assess technology development and maturity when evaluating automation functions. In cases where automated solutions are assessed to be used only in high-risk environments, the technology’s risk-management expectations required for automation must be clearly defined. Most cases can be evaluated either from a design review approach, such as traditional type certification or system verification demonstrations using a functional test-based programme with specified minimum flight hours. It must be noted, however, that the flight hours for a functional test-based demonstration must be performed in a lower-risk operational environment.

The infographic below outlines the types of operations that may be considered in developing or maturing automation technology.

It can be shown that as the severity of the safety hazard increases, so must the demonstration of the technology's maturity to define the operational limits and build confidence in automation. 

4.2.3 Resilience of Hardware/Software Systems

Assessing a hardware or software solution's functional and safety capabilities in performance situations such as environmental changes, equipment failures, or data loss can evaluate its resilience. Resilient solutions are becoming more important as more safety-critical functions become automated. In general, solutions that are more resilient to errors or faults are better suited to higher-risk operations. By using methods such as design assurance, run-time assurance and architectural redundancy, safety can be increased through resilient operation development.

Automation safety performance can be approached using a test-based standard similar to EASA’s Functional Test-Based Means of Compliance 22. Automated function status tests can be run to assess a system that can no longer perform the function autonomously and requires a take-over request (ToR). A recorded measurement of ToR per hour can categorise operations from low resilience to high resilience. This method provides an alternative evaluation process for modern systems that cannot be assessed using traditional testing methods. 

4.3 Evaluating Maturity/Maturity Models

4.3.1 NASA Capability Maturity Model Capability Maturity Model for Automation

To provide a methodical and robust automation capability maturity, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has developed a Capability Maturity Model (CMM) structure and a gated automation evaluation process. They are both intended to be used to standardise the technical and regulatory maturity for the automation function evaluation process within the aviation industry.

The challenge of integrating resilient automation processes is currently due to the separate evaluation of aircraft automation and operational integration. As more automation systems are designed to perform capabilities connected to operational integration, which replace traditional pilot functions, evaluation and certification processes must be reworked to modernise the existing frameworks.

An evaluation of a new automation capability must include the type of aircraft, its operational mission, the specific elements or segments of the intended mission, the intended airspace for the operation, the defined role of the human operator (in all operating conditions) and the safety level expectations to be approved by the civil aviation authority/s. The evaluation must cover assessments of maturity, accuracy, availability, integrity, continuity and coverage of data sources and technology to support a new capability.

FSF/NASA’s proposed capability maturity model structure (Figure 3), ties the proposed automation capability to the core technology functions and services and the defined role of a human for a full evaluation. This process provides an opportunity to visualise future automation capabilities that may not be supported by the current technologies and data sources.

4.3.2 Technology Readiness Level Categorisation

One of the most common ways to assess deployment technology readiness is to use the NASA-developed Technology Readiness Level (TRL). The TRL consists of 9 levels in ascending order to assess the maturity of a specific technology.

The TRL levels are shown in Figure 4 below.


A TRL can describe the maturity of an automated technology/system in a specific operational environment (ODD) as long as it has supporting evidence of the assessment. There are currently no specific standards to demonstrate each TRL due to the variations in each technology solution, but it can provide a method in which to mature the technology by assessing the capabilities and limitations of its operational functionality.

The TRL concept can be used to develop any technology. However, it must be noted that it does not consider any specific system architecture or critical safety requirements. TRL must be used within a complete operational approval framework that factors in all aspects of the operation/s and must be well communicated and understood between the designer/manufacturer and the operator. The SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment) is one example of a holistic approach of a complete operational approval framework.

5. Conclusions: Regulatory Impacts

The introduction of UAS into the airspace system has disrupted the traditional framework for technology adaptation. Aviation regulators and industry professionals are developing new frameworks to support UAS operation integration, many of which include automation functions. Automation is part of airspace development and is crucial to enable the success of routine, efficient and safe integration of all aircraft in supporting operations.

This paper has come to the conclusion that there are some specific regulatory environment challenge areas that need to be addressed, including:

1) Updates to existing definitions of flight rules to accommodate aircraft with varying

degrees of automated behaviour and piloting concepts;

2) Considerations for incorporating automated capabilities into the existing airspace

structure and how that structure may need to evolve to support different operational


3) Development of automated infrastructure in support of future operations, including

aerodromes and traffic management systems, and

4) Pathways to establishing the maturity of technology and the regulatory environment in support of automated operations.

The whitepaper states that there are no single-solution options to incorporate automated capabilities into the airspace, but the collected documentation by the JARUS WG Auto provides a pathway for the development, evaluation and implementation of these capabilities into existing operational frameworks.

The integration of UAS into the existing airspace structure is a complex regulatory challenge. The need for an automated framework is essential to support UAS operations and ensure that they are integrated safely and efficiently alongside crewed aircraft. While there is no single or simple solution, the JARUS WG on Automation has outlined the areas that need to be addressed and provided a valuable resource when it comes to the development, evaluation and implementation of automation in the existing operational frameworks.

If you need support with airspace automated consultation services, email me at and I will be happy to assist you and answer any questions.