UK National Highways launches new flight management system to improve safety

National Highways has launched a new flight management system which will speed up processes for drone operators looking to fly near motorways or major A roads and improve safety through better co-ordination and visibility of flights.

Under the new system, developed by ARPAS-UK member DroneCloud, operators will be able to go online to record their flight details and discover within seconds whether that will cause conflict with other aircraft. In addition, there will now be details of flights booked with other organisations such as Network Rail.

The system works alongside a new Drones Standard, GG 954 Drones Operations. This replaces the existing policy and contains requirements over and above those defined by the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority.

It also aligns with the company-wide GG 104 standard which will ensure that the use of drones is safer, or at least as safe as, the existing way of undertaking an activity whether that be, for example, surveying, construction or asset inspection.

It will also share information with such organisations as Network Rail, National Grid and other large companies who also use this system to help prevent conflict with any other flights taking place nearby.

Drone operators looking to fly near National Highways’ motorways and major A roads will be able to go online to enter details of their planned flight. They will then be able to see immediately if other flights and operations are planned in the area and when.

Currently, drone operators from the supply chain and contractors have to contact National Highways to supply the necessary paperwork such as risk assessments and have their request accepted. They then notify National Highways ahead of any flights and the business carries out checks to ensure there are no conflicts.

In the last two years there have been over 1,000 notifications with the number of flights continually increasing.

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