Drone integration expert Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM O/S has been enabled at six airports in the UK – including one of Europe’s busiest, London’s Heathrow.
The product powers NATS’ Airspace User Portal (AUP), which will simplify the process through which drone users can request permission to fly in otherwise restricted airspace, ‘beyond all recognition’.
Rather than writing a letter or phoning the airport or air traffic controllers to request permission weeks in advance, AUP can give users simplified access.
This advance comes at a time when airports and air traffic controllers are having to deal with a growing number of requests from drone pilots who wish to use drones in airspace which is normally off-limits, but which the law permits access to if permission is secured (such as the Flight Restriction Zones, or Control Areas).
By making this process electronic, the UK can open its skies to increasingly sophisticated drone operations, such as on-airfield inspections of aircraft by drone, or even railway inspections and deliveries in areas off the airfield, but within the control zone.
By connecting airports, air traffic controllers, security services and drone pilots, as well as offering automated decision-making and quicker turnaround times, it enables NATS to lay the foundations for fully automated drones in the coming years, and truly open millions of square metres of the UK’s airspace for drone business.
Richard Parker, Altitude Angel, chief executive and founder, said: “This is not just about drones, it’s about unifying airspace. AUP is a world leading single-point request and authorisation tool which will help NATS process an increasing number of requests using automation, electronically, and in a scalable manner. The UK’s airspace management is complex, and often multiple agencies need to be involved in granting permission. GuardianUTM O/S supports all the functionality required to deliver national drone traffic management capability to any country which wishes to safely unlock the potential of drones.”
For airports, or those who manage flight authorisations, understanding/knowing which drones have been approved to operate in the restricted airspace has several obvious benefits, not least being able to identify rogue operators.
“By providing a common platform and the option to integrate with emerging drone-defence and detection systems, this roll-out enables the potential to mitigate against another ‘Gatwick’, and help to provide the safeguarding airports need, while enabling the drone industry to flourish,” said Parker.