EBACE Convention News

Skyguide, Airmap Partners In Swiss Drone Airspace Demo

 - May 15, 2019, 3:00 AM

Swiss air navigation service provider Skyguide and drone airspace management platform AirMap will launch the trial phase of automated flight authorizations and other U-space services for drones using Swiss airspace. Skyguide plans to officially launch the Swiss U-space next month. The trial phase follows the announcement of a partnership between Skyguide and AirMap in March 2018 to develop and deploy the first national drone traffic management system in Europe.

In addition, the trial phase will test U1, U2 and some U3 services including E-registration, E-identification, pre-tactical geofencing, flight planning, real-time traffic and tracking, dynamic geofencing, and communications and emergency services powered by the AirMap UTM platform and integrated into Skyguide infrastructure for drone traffic management.

“Digital and automated airspace authorization is a critical enabler for scaling high-value drone operations,” said Ben Marcus, AirMap co-founder and chairman. “We’ve experienced this first-hand through our work with the FAA in the United States, and we are proud to be working with Skyguide to bring this capability to the Swiss drone community.”

As part of the trial, select Swiss drone operators can request automated and manual flight authorization to access airspace controlled by Skyguide (CTR) in the city of Lugano and the canton of Geneva. Access can be achieved via the Skyguide U-space mobile application, which is provided by AirMap. "The trial phase enables us to gain vital information and experience with selected users live in the field and therefore to make sure that this pioneering system is running smoothly and reliably when launched in June," said Robert Fraefel, U-Space project lead at Skyguide. 

The Skyguide automated and manual flight authorization service builds upon experience gained with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) successful Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program. Commercial drone operators in the U.S. can use the AirMap mobile application to request ATC authorization to fly in controlled airspace within seconds. The Swiss trial phase represents the first instantiation of a fully automated digital authorization service for drone flights outside of the U.S., similar to FAA LAANC.

Matternet, the developer of an autonomous drone logistics platform, is one of the operators participating in the Swiss trial. Supported by Swiss U-space, Matternet and Swiss Post, the national postal service, currently use drones to transport time-sensitive medical laboratory samples beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) between two hospitals in Lugano. 

The Swiss U-space platform includes an open interface enabling multiple U-space Service Providers to connect to core U-space services provided by the Skyguide Flight Information Management System (FIMS). Together with the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) in Switzerland, Skyguide and AirMap have developed the Swiss U-space reference architecture, which was contributed to SESAR JU’s European U-space standardization effort to promote an open industry platform for drone traffic management.