ACI Europe launches ConOps and guidance document for airport drone operations

ACI Europe has launched its Drones in the Airport Environment – Concept of Operations and Industry Guidance document, which outlines the regulatory and operational procedures for managing drone operations at an airport. The publication also sets out a number of recommendations. Among them:

  • Airports/ANSPs need to check if any of their IFP (instrument flight procedures) have protected zones that could interfere with the 120m (400ft) vertical limitation and take appropriate action where needed. Deviations from above recommendation could be possible on a case-by-case basis, only after conducting a safety assessment ensuring the additional risks can be mitigated (e.g. crossing traffic at low altitude)….
  • It is recommended that ANSPs develop standard buffers in order to separate drone operations from manned aircraft movements (in the air and on the ground). These buffers could be incorporated in the Standardised Use Cases, facilitating a standard approach to risk mitigation measures at least until effective technologies and protocols are widely available and deployed.
  • Drone Fly Zones. The key enabler….is a suite of three dimensional maps that specify the location of the zones for each protected aerodrome. Competent Authorities/ANSPs are recommended to develop standardised specications to identify the requirements for the three different Drone Fly Zones.
  • The safety/security risk assessment should include identifying sensitive infrastructures and/or areas and consider developing specific procedures for these ‘hot spots’.

According to the guide: “Airport operators are encouraged to develop and maintain a holistic view on safety/security management and include drone operations in their safety and security management system(s). Airport operators and relevant stakeholders should be made aware of and/or trained on requirements for drone operations at or in the vicinity of their airport(s), including safety/security risks and mitigating actions, coordination arrangements and incident reporting (to include citizens). A single point of coordination/contact is desirable, and should be considered in the coordination/communication arrangements. It is strongly recommended to develop Quick Reaction Procedures (QRPs) in order to react effectively to noncooperative drones. These procedures should be trained to ensure all actors will act accordingly.”

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