Belgium introduces automated UTM airspace authorisation and management system

Belgium’s air navigation service provider (ANSP) skeyes and the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority have today released Droneguide PRO – a system which automates the administrative process for drone registration, flight approvals, dynamic airspace management and other UTM functions. It allows professional drone operators and pilots to access airspace via a web based application.

At the request of skeyes and the FPS Mobility and Transport, Unifly has developed a specific Droneguide version for professional drone users. The updated version contains all the features they need to plan and manage their flights. Marc Kegelaers, CEO of Unifly, said: “As of today and based on Unifly’s technology, functions like registration, geo-awareness, dynamic airspace management, flight planning, strategic de-confliction, multi-level flight approval processes etc… are no longer items on a wish list, but are functions that are available to drone operators as well as national and local authorities….Until now, professional drone operators were required to manually request their flight approvals and derogations. For drone operators, this meant a lot of paperwork and administrative delay.

“With the new automated process, drone operators are able to conduct their business in a more efficient and streamlined manner. Drone operators and pilots can now fully focus on flying and securing projects, with Droneguide PRO simplifying the administrative aspect.”

skeyes and the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport are launching an extended version of the Droneguide application, according to a Unifly press statement. Professional drone users in Belgium are required as from tomorrow to notify their flights via this application. Recreational drone users can find information about the regulation and all they need to know to use their drone. They can also check where it is allowed to fly. Droneguide is very successful: every month, some 18,000 drones users (unique visitors) use the application.

Johan Decuyper, skeyes CEO said: “With the Droneguide application, we were already a pioneer. This extended version is no less than a world first: nowhere else in the world, flight requests or derogations can be made via a comparable tool. From the beginning, skeyes has recognised the economic interest of unmanned aviation and the societal value of its multiple concrete applications. We support the sector in its development and will continue to do so. Our role has always been to ensure the safety of air traffic, also for unmanned aircraft. Information and practical support tools such as Droneguide are an important first step.”

According to Emmanuelle Vandamme, President of the FPS Mobility and Transport the Droneguide extends the online services available to aviation customers through the Aviation Portal launched last week. “It simplifies the procedures for the approximately 1,100 licensed drone pilots in Belgium (class 1) and improves airspace safety,” she said. Via the online portal, Class 1 (A and B) operators can register, make flight notifications and obtain the necessary data from the FPS Mobility and Transport.

With the new system, according to Unifly, pilots can plan their operation and obtain validation via the online tool or via the mobile application. They can also notify their flight to the authorities. New Class 1A flight requests are taken into account during the validation process. For active applications, the documents of the request file can be displayed. For their part, the authorities receive an overview of all planned operations and see all active operations on the map, including those that are about to start.

Class 2 operators can also plan their flights via the tool. However, they are not required to make a flight request or to notify their flights. Nothing changes for recreational drone users.

Until now, professional drone users have notified their flights via an online form. Derogation requests even had to be sent by e-mail using a Word document. From now on, both actions will have to be carried out via the application. A transition period is scheduled until 11 December 2019 at midnight. During this period, requests may still be processed using the “old method” on an exceptional basis. From now on, users can submit all their requests via the application, but also view their flights via Droneguide maps, manage their entire fleet and keep an overview of their flight history.

In order to use the application, professional drone users must first register via CSAM. The FPS Mobility and Transport provides secure access via eID, itsme, mobile application or SMS. A main access manager controls the use of all the features of the application and can also designate optional access managers.

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