Space for Aviation Safety Evolution

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  • OPPORTUNITYIntended Tender
  • ACTIVITYDemonstration Project
  • Opening date01 October 2021
  • Closing date31 January 2022

In the upcoming Announcement of Opportunity economic operators are invited to propose a Demonstration Project addressing the theme of Space for Aviation safety evolution. This new opportunity originates from the ARTES 4.0 Strategic Programme Line “Space Systems for Safety and Security (4S)“.

This Call for Opportunity is based on a two-step approach:

  • Outline Proposals submission deadline: 12 Nov 2021
  • Full Proposals submission deadline: 31 Jan 2022


Digitalisation and remotisation of operations, digitalisation of communications, reduction in human operational intervention, development of remotely piloted and automated platforms (i.e. drones, UAVs, HAPS) and operations in new layers of airspace kept mostly unutilised up to now (Very Low-Level (VLL) sky (below 150 metres) and upper sky, i.e. above 20km altitude) are some of the expected major evolutions of the aviation sector. Those trends lead to the emergence of new safety and security challenges that innovative solutions will have to tackle to ensure overall aviation safety.

The objectives of this Announcement of Opportunity are to foster the development and showcase of innovative applications enabled by satellite telecommunications (and other space assets) in support of aviation safety evolution

Satellite telecommunications can play a fundamental and unique role to offer the secure and reliable connectivity required for safety related communications, with a wide coverage including oceanic areas, at high altitudes where ground-based systems are less or not effective, or to increase network resilience when used as a redundant system to terrestrial networks.

The Call for Proposals is originating from interactions with public and private stakeholders from the aviation sector.


The proposals shall focus on the design, development and demonstration of applications enabled by satellite telecommunications in the aviation and air safety sectors. 

A preliminary list of user scenarios and applications to be addressed include (but are not limited to):

  • Virtual black box (key technical data from the aircraft are transmitted and saved on the ground).
  • Remote monitoring of aircraft’ critical system components. 
  • Support to on-board pilots on commercial aircraft in scenarios seeing a reduction of the number of on-board pilots (“single pilot” concept).
  • Remote and virtual control tower (air traffic service (ATS) at an airport is performed somewhere else than on the local airport/airfield).
  • Air Traffic Management evolution
    - very low altitude (U-Space) and high-altitude airspace enabling integration of drones, UAVs, and other Urban Air mobility platforms as well as High Altitude Platforms.
    - ATS digitalisation
  • ADS-B based applications:for surveillance and separation of aircraft, especially in the Non-Radar Airspace (e.g. oceanic and remote continental),
    - for improvement of Airport & Airspace Capacity & Efficiency, 
    - for reduction of crew workload through better awareness of aircraft data, as an alternative to HF/VHF communications,
    - for drone applications.
  • Uncrewed air platforms (UAVs) command/control/monitoring communications.

During the activities, integration with future satellite telecommunications infrastructures may also be investigated, in view of paving the way for future proof-of-concepts and demonstrations. 

Proposals using in complement other space assets, technologies and data are in addition welcomed.


We offer funding and support to companies, both for business case assessment and for the development of new, space-based services. Our offer includes:

  • Technical & commercial guidance
  • Access to our network and partners
  • Use of the ESA brand for your service
  • Zero-equity funding as summarized in the table presented below:


ESA will bear up to 50% of the project eligible cost; the remainder has to be financed by the Tenderer through private sector direct and/or indirect co-funding and/or by the users based on terms and conditions to be agreed upon. 

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises activities can be funded up to 80 % by the Agency, depending on the funding level authorised by the related National Delegation(s).

Work carried out by universities and research institutes involved as contractors or subcontractors and justifying no further commercial interest in the product may be up to 80% funded by the Agency (for Demonstration Projects), depending on the funding level authorised by the related National Delegation(s). The funding of Universities or Research Institutes shall not exceed 30% of the total allowable cost.   

The Agency will admit for evaluation only (Outline and Full) Proposals from a bidding team composed of economic operators - being prime or subcontractor - residing in any of those states that subscribe to ARTES 4.0 4S Strategic Programme Line.

To date, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have subscribed to 4S SPL. 


Contact information can be found under: National Delegations | ESA TIA


A webinar is scheduled for Wednesday 22 September 2021 at 11:00 CEST (10:00 BST).