Belgian ANSP skeyes creates national UTM company – plans future private partnerships

Belgian air navigation service provider (ANSP) skeyes has created a subsidiary Skeydrone in which it will pool all its drone-related activities, including UAS traffic management services.

According to the company:

“The skeyes Board of Directors decided to create a commercial subsidiary called SkeyDrone. This skeyes subsidiary shall group all drone-related initiatives in a separate organisation. The company will among other things offer air navigation services for unmanned aircraft. The regulatory framework in this new market is in a final phase of development on European level. SkeyDrone will not be the only player on this market, but with the expertise of the mother company skeyes as air navigation service provider for the manned aviation, the acquired experience with drones and the collaboration within the sector, SkeyDrone undoubtedly has an important role to play. Moreover, SkeyDrone will focus on services for securing critical infrastructure (such as airports) against drone intrusions.

“But also within skeyes an expertise regarding drones will remain. That way in the long run skeyes wishes to act as a CISP/CIF (Common Information Service Provider/ Common Information Function): a central player who via an open platform provides information involving manned and unmanned flights to e.g. other air navigation service providers who will manage unmanned air traffic. International, commercial companies for example manage their own unmanned fleet.”

In the first phase of creating the company skeyes will be the only shareholder in the new company but in a second phase, “public and private (industrial) partners will be sought in order to decrease the share of skeyes, but especially to add the necessary knowledge and competencies to the mix.”

“Our efforts for the drone sector are situated in a broader strategy with regard to innovation. In our other activity domains we are examining how we can proceed in an innovative way as well in the interest of all our clients,” said Johan Decuyper, CEO of skeyes. “Regarding drones we are most certainly among the frontrunners in Europe. Proof of that is the support that we receive from Europe and our advice to governments that serves as the basis for drone-related regulation. That way, we promote the interests of aviation in our country and we remain responsible for the safety of all the traffic in the Belgian airspace.”

According to a press statement, via the current skeyes droneguide app pilots can verify where and when they can fly with which device and professional users can even obtain the necessary authorisations and notify their flights to the competent authorities. Various projects are now up and running to test practical applications with drones in real circumstances: inspection flights in the port area, delivery of medical supplies, collaboration between safety services, … Apart from the technical possibilities and obstacles (such as drone detection) it yields a tremendous amount of knowledge for skeyes with regard to managing unmanned air traffic.

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(Image:  Maykova Galina/Shutterstock)

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