Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS) is working with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) manufacturer, Threod Systems, and technology provider Frequentis, to support Estonian blue-light forces with a series of essential drone operations during the COVID-19 lockdown. The operations are supporting Estonian emergency services with medical transport and information gathering.
Threod Systems was approached by Estonian public health organisations and the Police and Border Guard Board. Frequentis worked with EANS on its SESAR Gulf of Finland (GOF) unmanned airspace (U-space) trial in 2018 and 2019, and was contacted to again provide its flight information management system (FIMS) which provides the Common Information Services (CIS) function to the operation. The company provides air traffic management (ATM) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems.
In several regions of the country, the police, together with the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, have used drones to inform the public of the lockdown rules and to monitor activity. Local authorities also require support with transporting medical supplies to remote or island locations.
“Severe movement restrictions were implemented for Hiiumaa with the mainland of Estonia, among other islands, during the lockdown to stop any virus spread.”, explained Mikk Murumäe, Co-Founder and Lead Software Engineer at Threod Systems. “Threod Systems set out to support local authorities with medical and other urgent transport to the mainland, including forwarding COVID-19 test samples. This served as a very successful proof of concept to provide an alternative and relief to manned emergency air lifting services, which are urgently required elsewhere during these types of situation.”
EANS continues to safely and reliably operate Estonian airspace, providing services to manned flights and international manned COVID-19 relief flights, but the need to safely integrate drones for this special mission meant reactivating the Frequentis FIMS from the previous drone trials. The FIMS provides real-time situational awareness to air traffic controllers, enabling both manned flights and Threod drones to safely share the same airspace, providing controllers with the complete air situation picture.
“We gained extremely positive experience from all parties during the SESAR GOF U-space trials during 2018 and 2019 and therefore feel very well-prepared to appropriately respond to the challenges during COVID-19 times,” noted Maria Tamm, GOF Project Manager for EANS and now UTM development lead in Estonia. “In order to enable the safe and secure integration of unmanned and manned aviation, all parties who use the airspace, must be aware of each other.”
EANS is currently developing the concept of operations for accelerating the roll-out of Estonian U-space. These drone operations supporting public safety during lockdown were another step closer outline the roadmap for enabling safe and secure integration of unmanned and manned aviation into Estonian airspace.
“We had experienced the professionalism of EANS and Threod Systems during the GOF demonstration and were pleased to provide enhanced situational awareness for this operation and allow these essential drone flights to take place.”, says Hannu Juurakko, Frequentis Vice President ATM Civil and Chairman of the ATM Executive Team. “The Frequentis FIMS infrastructure uses the Frequentis integration platform MosaiX, and several modules of field proven ATM-Grade Products, all hosted virtually using a cloud infrastructure in Vienna, Austria.”
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