UK air navigation service provider NATS is supporting safe access in UK controlled airspace to commercial drone operators for Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) activities over the North Sea. In a partnership between NATS, the unmanned aircraft company FlyLogix and gas multinational Total, the North Sea drone initiative is developing and testing a concept for drone operations that will allow UAV operators to react within hours of an inspection request and enable routine BVLOS in the North Sea. The project involves extensive consultation with stakeholders and aims to establish a leading example of safe and reliable drone operations alongside existing users in controlled airspace. Currently, approvals for carrying out UAV operations inside UK controlled airspace can take up to three months, with requests considered on a one-by-one basis resulting in the granting of single flight permissions. This makes the planning of inspection and logistic services extremely slow. The collaboration combines FlyLogix’s BVLOS capability, Total’s robotic and autonomous systems capabilities, and NATS’ expertise in unified traffic management.
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