The new board of directors for the Global UTM Association (GUTMA) has been elected! For those unfamiliar with GUTMA, it’s a non-profit consortium of worldwide Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) stakeholders. The organisation’s purpose is to foster the safe, secure and efficient integration of drones in national airspace systems. The members support and accelerate the transparent implementation of globally interoperable UTM systems.
Thomas Neubauer has been elected as a Board of Director member of the Global UTM Association representing Dimetor, which has been a member of GUTMA for the past 5 years. Thomas has been very active in his mission to bridge the aviation and telecommunications industries in collaborating towards a future of digital skies.
As a leader passionate about integrating the telecommunications and drone industries, Thomas has made significant strides through his involvement with TEOCO, Dimetor, ACJA and other initiatives. His efforts have significantly aided several private and government bodies in embracing cellular technology and infrastructure for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations. These advancements have already been used in practical applications across diverse fields, including search and rescue, law enforcement, inspection, logistics and healthcare, among others.
The association has also published two industry-leading documents Reference Method for assessing Cellular C2 Link Performance and RF Environment Characterization for UAS and Interface for Data Exchange between MNOs and the UAS Ecosystem during his leadership with ACJA, which stands for Aerial Connectivity Joint Activity, a collaborative initiative between GUTMA and the GSMA.
The Board of Directors of GUTMA now includes:
1. Thomas Neubauer, CEO and Co-founder of Dimetor (newly elected)
Thomas Neubauer, co-founder and CEO of Dimetor and VP of Business Development & Innovations at TEOCO Corporation, has a strong telecommunications and aviation background. He has been at the forefront of key projects such as ACJA Worktask-2, the creation of critical data interfaces between telecom companies and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM). He is a strong believer in the convergence of the aviation and telecom worlds, which is why he has applied to become a part of the Global UTM Association under Dimetor. He sees digitisation and process automation as critical components to manage the massive growth of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations.
His vision extends to the simplification of interfaces for service providers, advocating a single point of access to all necessary data, connectivity and services. Thomas has a PhD in Telecommunications Engineering and a background in Business Administration. He brings a strong academic background to his professional engagements. His past leadership roles have been instrumental in driving innovation and strategic growth in the industries he has served, including Chief Strategy Officer at AIRCOM International and Founder and CEO of Symena.
2. Hrishikesh Ballal, the Founder and Managing Director of Openskies Aerial Technology Pvt. Ltd (newly elected)
Dr Hrishikesh Ballal, Founder and Managing Director of Openskies Aerial Technology Pvt. Ltd., brings with him seventeen years of professional experience in the development and design of complex engineering and software systems. He has extensive experience in the development of technologies, protocols and interfaces for the safe and secure operation of drones and for Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM). He is a strong proponent of the central role of open-source software in the future of the UTM ecosystem as the founder and technical lead of several well-established open-source projects in unmanned aviation, including Flight Spotlight, Flight Blender and the Aerobridge Management Server.
With experience at Openskies Aerial Technology and Geodesignhub Pvt. Ltd., Dr Ballal has expertise in advancing open-source protocols to enable safe drone operations and has worked extensively on the regulatory aspects of unmanned aviation. His background also includes time at Microsoft, where he was involved in developing and designing environmental reporting systems and building file management systems for the Microsoft Office suite. Dr Ballal has a rich academic background, including a PhD in Modern Spatial Analysis and Planning from the University College London, a Master of Science in Engineering and Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Dr Ballal has been involved with GUTMA since its inception and has a broad range of expertise.
3. Amanda Boekholt, Deputy Head of Innovation and Strategy Section, FOCA (newly elected)
Amanda Boekholt is responsible for the legal implementation of the UTM regulatory package in Switzerland as Deputy Head of the Strategy and Innovation Section at the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). She is involved in developing a legal framework to ensure safe, efficient and fair access to airspace for new players. In her position, she acts as a bridge between the UAS industry and the FOCA, responding to the needs of those involved and coordinating the support provided to the industry. She is also Secretary General of the Swiss U-space Implementation Partnership (SUSI), which works on the identification, quantification, design and implementation of U-space capabilities and technologies within Switzerland.
Amanda’s motivation stems from FOCA’s long history of innovation-friendly global UAS policy, regulation and standards. She sees U-space (UTM) at the heart of the FOCA’s efforts to create the conditions for civil UAS technology to scale up and gain access to the airspace. Amanda aims to bring the regulator’s perspective to the GUTMA Board, using her seat to share policy knowledge and experience. She hopes to contribute to the impact of GUTMA on the regulatory framework for UAS/UTM and its future development.
4. Co-president Sebastian Babiarz, the Director of UTM products at DroneUp (newly re-elected)
Sebastian Babiarz is the Director of UTM at DroneUp and is leading the development of UTM to enable large-scale deployment. DroneUp aims to provide an integrated platform for businesses to efficiently reach their communities by making drone services accessible and flexible. Before joining DroneUp, Sebastian was COO of DroneHub and prior to that, Head of Strategic Business Development at AirMap. In these roles, he built AirMap’s business across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Over the years, Sebastian has also focused on driving drone innovation in the mobile telecom industry in various roles at mobile network vendors such as Nokia, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent.
He is a founding director of GUTMA, the Global Unmanned Traffic Management Association. He believes in the critical role GUTMA plays in the unmanned ecosystem and wants to see it maintained as a robust and influential UTM Association that impacts the global drone ecosystem. Sebastian has been deeply involved in GUTMA’s operations since its inception in 2016, continuing to hold a leading position, and has served as Co-President since 2019. He is committed to ensuring that the voice of the industry and the stakeholders of the drone market are recognised, as UTM Director at DroneUp. Sebastian’s mission is to drive the market towards the creation of a harmonised and sustainable UTM, and to lead GUTMA to grow and expand over the next two years to continue to support the drone market.
5. Co-President Reinaldo Negron, the Head of UTM at Wing (in office until 2024)
Reinaldo Negron is the Head of UTM at Wing. With a rich history in the aerospace industry, Reinaldo Negron is an experienced drone professional in the field of unmanned traffic management (UTM). Since April 2018, he has been instrumental in creating an ecosystem and products that improve safety and accessibility in the sky, as Head of UTM for Wing. Across the US, Australia and Europe, he has been instrumental in leading product development for UTM and operator applications, as well as UTM integration activities. He’s also involved in developing standards and collaborating with the industry, including the InterUSS open-source project.
Reinaldo brings the perspective of an operator, service provider and manufacturer and engages regularly with a broad range of stakeholders, including ICAO, CANSO, CAAs and ANSPs, Federal, State and Local law enforcement as well as hobbyist and commercial UAS pilots and operators. He is a passionate advocate for the emerging UAS ecosystem and the role that UTM can play in accelerating access to the sky.. Reinaldo took on the role of co-president of the Global UTM Association (GUTMA) in June 2019. He has a broad range of experience in the UAS industry, including ICAO, CANSO, CAA, air navigation service providers, federal, state and local law enforcement, and recreational and commercial UAS pilots and operators.
6. Ralph Schepp, the MD and COO at Droniq (in office until 2024)
Ralph Schepp is the MD and COO at Droniq, a joint venture between German air navigation service provider DFS and Deutsche Telekom. He’s known as a results-oriented executive with a proven record of success in strategy development and execution, visioning, transforming, innovating and managing product portfolios. He’s passionate about actively shaping the future by bridging the gap between emerging next-generation technologies and the business world. Droniq is a joint venture between DFS, the German air traffic control authority, and Deutsche Telekom that offers a solution for the safe and sustainable integration of drones into the airspace via mobile communications technology.
Prior to Droniq, Ralph had a strong focus on technology innovation and led the spectrum and technology strategy units at Deutsche Telekom Group. In 2016, Ralph initiated the “Connected Drones” project, which helped to launch Droniq. In his role as COO of Droniq, Ralph continues to identify disruptive ideas, develop them and bring them to market. His role at Droniq draws on more than 15 years of professional experience in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to lead technology, IT and product development. Ralph holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Lüneburg and is the proud father of three children.
7. Luke Gumley, the Head of Integrated Airspace Program at Airservices Australia (in office until 2024)
Luke Humley is the Head of Integrated Aerospace Program at Airservices Australia. Having started his career as a flight instructor in Western Australia, Luke Gumley is a seasoned professional in the aviation industry. Early in his career, he interacted with various members of the aviation community, helping them achieve their recreational and commercial pilot goals. This experience has enabled him to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and has honed his communication and training skills. He has promoted the adoption of new drone technology while maintaining a safe aviation system as Head of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for the Australian Civil Aviation Authority.
Luke has a wide and varied role within the aviation industry. He has led the implementation of a Flight Information Management System as part of Australia’s UTM architecture and the enhancement of its drone detection capabilities. His work has also included research activities that have strengthened Australia’s position as a leader in airspace integration, including the operation of advanced air mobility (AAM) and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). At CASA, he played a key role as the founding manager of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Division, facilitating the adoption of the JARUS SORA framework for BVLOS and complex operations, and working with industry to develop CASA’s strategic regulatory roadmap for RPAS and AAM. Luke has more than a decade of experience as a general aviation pilot and more than 11 years of senior management experience with the Australian Government’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), holding an Air Transport Pilot Licence (Aeroplane), a Bachelor of Science in Aviation and an MBA.
8. Amit Ganjoo, Founder and CEO at ANRA Technologies (in office until 2024)
Amit Ganjoo is an accomplished serial entrepreneur with more than two decades of extensive experience in the aerospace, telecommunications and wireless industries. He holds the position of Founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies, a company based in Chantilly, VA that is known for its award-winning drone operations platform, DroneOSS™. The platform, which is used by organisations such as NASA and several commercial entities, provides companies with a comprehensive, drone-agnostic solution for real-time flight planning, automated missions, airspace management, fleet management, data management and much more. He is also an investor and serves on the board of directors of ZiBY Creations, a Dallas, Texas-based technology-focused services and solutions provider.
Ganjoo has contributed to academia and associations that promote drone integration in addition to his corporate roles. Since 2016, he has served as an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering. There, he shares his passion for engineering with aspiring engineers. In 2019, he accepted the responsibility of serving on the board of directors of the Global UTM Association, a non-profit consortium dedicated to facilitating the safe, secure, and efficient integration of UAVs into the national airspace system. He holds a pilot’s license and builds experimental aircraft, and is known for his lifelong passion for aviation. Ghanjoo’s diverse roles and contributions demonstrate his expertise and commitment to the evolution of the drone industry.
9. Shinji Nakadai, Principal Researcher at NEC Corporation (in office until 2024)
Shinji Nakadai specialises in data science, databases, distributed computing and machine learning and is a respected Principal Researcher at NEC Corporation. He graduated from the University of Tokyo School of Engineering in 2001 and 2003. Later, Nakadai expanded his research and academic skills by serving as a guest researcher at the Department of Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley from 2012 to 2013, where he worked under the guidance of Prof. Michael J. Franklin.
In his professional career, Nakadai’s main focus has been on the research of market mechanisms and automatic negotiation for unmanned traffic management (UTM) and supply chain management (SCM). He has been a key contributor to the DRESS project, a major UTM initiative in Japan, which runs from 2017 to 2022. As a testament to his forward-thinking approach, his innovative eNegotiation Protocol for SCM was accepted and published by UN/CEFACT in 2021. Currently, driven by his ambition to achieve fair and efficient airspace use, Nakadai’s research focuses on the negotiation and verification mechanisms for UTM. Nakadai is also a member of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and a contributor to the BIRD INITIATIVE, Inc. in addition to his role at NEC. His extensive expertise spans machine learning, wireless technology, network protocols and distributed databases. This underscores his leadership in the field.
For more information about GUTMA and the association work regarding connectivity, please visit their website.