Canada’s RTM/UTM system one year on: “70% of drone flight requests automatically approved”

About 70% of drone flight requests are now automatically approved by NAV CANADA’s ‘NAV Drone’ application, part of its national RPAS Traffic Management (RTM) platform supplied by Unifly in June 2021, according to Alan Chapman, RTM Director at NAV CANADA.

“NAV Drone is a resilient platform that provides situational awareness and operational planning to RPAS Pilots and Operators,” said Alan Chapman in a question-and-answer text with Unifly CEO Andres Van Swalm, published to celebrate one year of operations of the RTM platform. “It allows them to understand the airspace they are flying in, and when they need to request permission to access controlled airspace. Pilots and Operators use the portal designed for their use, which provides a suite of services available through both web and mobile applications. Services include user-friendly visualization of airspace restrictions, flight planning and validation against the Canadian regulations, digital permission requests to access NAV CANADA’s controlled airspace, as well as intuitive functionalities to manage their crew, fleet, and operations.

“To NAV CANADA the NAV Drone system reduces workload on our operational units, and therefore reduces distraction from their core duties, which in turn supports overall safety. This is achieved through both the automation of requests and the workflow associated with requests requiring further coordination. The RTM platform also includes a map-based view that displays all RPAS operations – planned and currently in flight – allowing our ATS units to respond when situations, such as priority flights occur in the control zone. The supervisory portal allows immediate access to verified phone numbers for pilots.”

“With more than 20,000 pilots registered in NAV Drone, the adoption rate is slightly above our initial expectations. That includes nearly 3,800 pilots with an Advanced Pilot Certificate, representing about 50% of all Advanced Pilot Certificates delivered by Transport Canada.
Here, we saw a 50% year-on-year increase compared to the process in place before NAV Drone. This huge increase is not only related to pilots conducting more flights, it also indicates that applications like NAV Drone really maximize compliance of the pilots with the processes to fly in controlled airspace, which directly contributes to our mission to guarantee airspace safety…. the fraction of those permission requests that meet the criteria for an automatic approval by the NAV Drone system, compared to those that do not and trigger a review by our ATS units.

“This indicator directly points to the increase in efficiency offered by the Unifly platform, as to how NAV CANADA manages RPAS access to controlled airspace.”

(Image: Shutterstock)

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