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U-Space scenario Governance and Finance

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Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management




The Netherlands




The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is responsible for the national developments of unmanned aviation in the Netherlands. The Ministry works on different topics that will affect the implementation of U-space in the Netherlands through a dedicated program.

The challenge

To enable a large number of drones and complex operations, an unmanned traffic management system called U-space is being introduced. U-space is a set of services and procedures for an automated traffic management system that ensures safe and efficient operations. In 2021, AirHub Consultancy answered the question, “What are the most relevant scenarios for the governance and finance of U-space in the Netherlands?” The aim of the study is to provide the Ministry with tools for relevant scenarios that serve as a starting point for the implementation of U-space regulations in the Netherlands.

This report answers the question of which most relevant scenarios there are for the governance, financing and funding of U-space in the Netherlands.
Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management


We, along with our partners, carried out this study in a short period of time. We interviewed different organizations from countries around the world to gain a better understanding of best practices. The best practices from other countries paint a diverse picture, with most countries being at the early stages of implementing U-space, due to the recent publication of U-space regulations in 2021. However, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland are forerunners in this field. 

The interviews also showed that the parties anticipate the costs of U-space services will be charged and paid by the users themselves, but this will only happen when the U-space market is mature, self-regulating, and there is no need or desire for further financial intervention from the government. 

For this reason, we set up different scenarios and scored them against each other based on a list of criteria. This resulted in four relevant scenarios for U-space in the Netherlands: 

  • Participation Model 
  • Direction Model
  • Open Market
  • Integration Model. 

The governance ‘direction’ model is based on the principle that there is a significant public interest in the Netherlands in the creation of U-space and that this would not be possible or would be insufficient without a leading role for the state. The market model opts for a restrained role for the national government. In the integration model, the aim is to set up unmanned traffic management as closely as possible to the current airspace management. The participation model focuses on equal cooperation between the state, local authorities, existing implementing organizations, and market parties, in setting up and maintaining the U-space ecosystem. 

We concluded that it is obvious to choose the participation scenario as a starting point. In the participation scenario, no significant design choices need to be made in advance, which means there is the most flexibility in a market that is still in development, both in terms of application and technology. 

This scenario also offers scope to gradually form an idea of which U-space device is the most suitable for the Netherlands. This could mean, for example, that in the long term, the participation scenario transitions into a control scenario and later into an open market scenario. Additionally, the government plays an active role in the participation scenario, which fits in with the desire for innovation while safeguarding the public interest at the same time.


  • Thanks to the interviews with several different countries, we’ve created a complete picture on the different views with regards to governance and finance scenarios for U-space
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has a deeper understanding of what U-space could look like for the Netherlands, without needing the expertise themselves