About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Air traffic control (ATC)

Services that guide aircraft and deconflict airspace

Automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast (ADS-B)

A type of electronic conspicuity device

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

The UK's aviation regulator

Class A/B/C/D/E/F/G airspace

Airspace is divided into different classes with different rules on what is and is not permissible. Classes A-E are controlled airspace, classes F and G are uncontrolled airspace

Controlled airspace, uncontrolled airspace

Controlled airspace is airspace that can only be used following instructions from air traffic control. Uncontrolled airspace is open to general aviation to fly in using visual flight rules without air traffic control

Electronic conspicuity (EC)

A class of technologies that make an object such as a drone visible to electronic systems such as air traffic control


Intergovernmental agency that oversees and coordinates air traffic control across the continent of Europe

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)

European Union agency that oversees aviation safety


Drones that gain their lift from wings, like a plane

Hybrid VTOL fixed-wing

Drones that take off vertically using rotors, then fly forward using wings


Drones that gain their lift from rotors, like a helicopter

National Air Traffic Services (Nats)

The company that runs the UK's air traffic control system

UAS traffic management system, unmanned traffic management system, urban air traffic management system (UTM)

An air traffic control system for drones. The terms are used interchangeably

Unmanned aerial system, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAS, UAV)


Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL)

Drones that can take off vertically, like a helicopter, rather than along a runway, like a plane

Visual flight rules, Instrument flight rules (VFR, IFR)

When using visual flight rules, a pilot flies their aircraft based on what they can see. In instrument flight rules, the pilot follows the instrumentation in their cockpit, instructions from air traffic control and follows a flight plan

Visual line of sight, Extended visual line of site, Beyond visual line of sight (VLOS, EVLOS, BVLOS)

There are three broad categories of drone flight: flight within visual line of sight is flying a drone where the pilot controlling the drone is nearby and can see the drone; extended visual line of sight is flying a drone further than the pilot can see, but with another operator able to see it; flying beyond visual line of sight is flying a drone with a pilot who cannot see where the drone is, and relies on the instrumentation on the drone for all situational awareness

Air navigation service provider (ANSP)

Body that provides air navigation services to manage air traffic on behalf of a company, region or country