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FAQ

What is U-Space ?

 

The increasing use of drones and, in particular, the need to fly these further (i.e. beyond the operator’s line of sight) raise the question of how these devices should be managed within airspace and who should manage them. This is where the U-Space concept comes in.

 

U-Space was introduced by the European Commission as a federated set of services that are designed to ensure the safe, secure and efficient integration of multiple manned and unmanned aircraft into airspace through a collaboration among all the parties involved.

 

Airspace management, drone traffic flow management and control systems represent the core components of U-Space, collecting intentions, managing the interplay between demand and capacity, providing the authorisations required, issuing directives and advice to users (operators and remote pilots in command) and ultimately ensuring fair and easy access to airspace for all.

 

What are the objectives of this trial, and how will it contribute to the U-Space regulatory framework?

 

To ensure that Switzerland has the appropriate U-Space framework, many policy and regulatory requirements and extensive guidance will need to be produced and/or adapted to specifically address the integration into airspace of unmanned aircraft systems (drones). Drone/U-Space technology and operations will need to mature, and new products and services may be required to meet the applicable regulations and standards. The regulatory process needs to be designed to ensure transparency towards the public and business alike, and must provide ample opportunities for feedback on draft regulations prior to their enforcement. Most importantly, any regulatory effort at the national level must be compatible with European and international regulations where appropriate.

 

Whilst reaching such technical, operational and regulatory maturity will take a number of years, it is imperative that Switzerland should help shape, rather than merely react to, the developments in the drone industry. For the many parties involved, this concrete implementation requires a common reliable reference model for the future U-Space framework that is sufficiently robust for them to plan their investments and their activities.

 

The Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) has established a U-Space Programme with the following objectives:

1. To create a national U-Space regulatory framework that adopts and supports the FOCA’s rulemaking process.

2. To promote and support the establishment of a Swiss-wide U-Space pilot project that is built on the success of skyguide’s U-Space Geneva and Zurich demonstrators.

3. To coordinate a national “regulator/industry/ANSP” U-Space group that is tasked to gather experience and input from the running demonstrator, to establish best practices, standards and business models and to inform the regulatory process.

 

The platform tested meets the expectations of the vision for a Swiss U-Space as supported by the FOCA and is sponsored by Swiss U-Space Implementation (SUSI), the national U-Space development group.

 

What procedures do I have to follow during the trial?

 

Throughout the trial phase, the current procedures for coordinating special flights as formalised by the FOCA and skyguide are the only applicable procedures:

Any communication, information, approval and/or rejection received through the AirMap application is NOT operationally valid and must be disregarded.

 

Which products and services will be deployed and tested?

 

Some U-Space services will be deployed from the beginning of the trial, and some will be added during the four months of testing. Participants will be regularly informed about new functionalities/services as and when they are made available.

 

Communication Service

This service provides a means of communicating among U-Space stakeholders. It benefits the drone operator by providing them with a tool for direct communications with other operators and with air traffic control.

 

Registration Service

This service gives the competent authorities a means to verify users’ identities. It ensures privacy and data protection whenever the users or the competent authorities require the appropriate data. This service will also benefit the Skyguide Flight Information Management System (FIMS) and other competent authorities in their user identifications during operations and contingency situations. The service will provide data to relevant stakeholders when needed while maintaining the privacy of its users.

 

E-identification Service

This service benefits the competent authorities by providing a means to verify a drone, and will enable them and the FIMS to identify the drone during operations and in contingency situations.

 

Airspace Authorization Service

This service benefits the remote pilot in command (RPIC), requests management and the competent authorities. The RPIC will be able to perform their operations notwithstanding the operational restrictions. Requests will automatically be communicated to the Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN), the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), local airports and the police, and the service will thus provide more efficient request management. The competent authorities will receive the relevant requests in an appropriate form, and the surrounding parties relevant to the operations will be able to incorporate the operation concerned into their schedule. The end users will obtain an operational area with a safety net; and the service will thus benefit the participants and provide them with useful information to avoid conflicts and hazards.

 

N.B. During the trial, manual and automated authorisations will only be tested in the GVA and LUG regions, and by a limited number of participants.

 

Rules Awareness Service

This service provides information about the rules to follow in a specific area at a specific time and for a specific operation. It provides the following functions:

  • Informing about rules related to restricted and dangerous areas
  • Informing about airport restrictions and restrictions related to environmental protection (e.g. no-fly zones or NFZs)
  • Providing the rules envisaged by the FOCA for safe flight operations in normal conditions (e.g. VLOS).

This service benefits the RPIC, by giving them an awareness of the rules and allowing them to plan their operations within the regulatory framework envisaged by the FOCA for normal conditions.

 

Tracking Service

This service monitors the position reports of the drones, in order for other services (flight planning and so on) to operate. It fulfils the following functions:

  • Tracking drone positions in real time
  • Securely storing the resulting tracking data
  • Providing various tracking data access levels to users with various credentials.

The service will gather data on the positions of the drone while ensuring the privacy of its user and their activity. It will benefit users by allowing the services and the competent authorities to access data while ensuring the privacy of the participants and their data protection.

 

Flight Planning Service

This pre-flight service arranges and optimises the intended operational volumes/trajectories for safety, dynamic airspace flight rules, airspace restrictions and mission needs. It entails the following functions:

  • Providing an interface for flight planning
  • Providing all the relevant information (from all other services) to plan the flight
  • Notifying the operator of possible conflicts/rule violations of the flight proposed
  • Attesting the legal compliance of the flight proposed according to applicable rules
  • Providing the possibility of submitting the flight plan to the relevant stakeholders.

 

The service provides the drone operator with information relevant to their flight planning. It ensures safety and provides space for new flight plans when needed. It will enable the drone operators to exchange intentions and constraints. It will also provide the operator with the possibility of changing their flight plans in the event of conflicts. It will further benefit the separation services, other inflight services and the competent authorities by providing them with the relevant flight information.

 

Why do the mobile and web app often refer to AirMap?

 

AirMap is skyguide’s technical partner for U-Space. AirMap has developed the technological platform, while skyguide operates the services.

 

How can I create a flight plan?

 

You can do so directly on the map, by pointing your finger at the location you want to fly to and holding it there.

 

 

This will bring up the Flight Plan Creation page, where you can enter and record details of your mission.

The first step here is to define the flight area. You have three options:

  • A circle around the takeoff point
  • A trajectory from A to B
  • A free-form area.

 

   

 

Once recorded, your flight plan can be submitted.

 

Can I change the location of my intended flight on the map?

 

Yes. During flight plan creation, point with your finger to the location you want to fly to (the small white circle) and move it on the map.

 

Can I create a flight for a time in the future?

 

Yes. In the Flight Creation > Flight Plan Details section, select “Start time and duration”, and then choose the date and time you want to fly.

 

What is the meaning of the different colours used on the maps?

 

Red indicates a no-fly zone (except with special approval).
Orange means that pilot action(s) may be required before the flight.
Blue means controlled airspace, called CTR (control traffic region), a danger area or a restricted area.
Green means that the area is free to fly in.

 

Detailed information about restrictions is provided before and during flight plan creation.

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Why do the Lugano and Geneva CTRs have more detailed layouts?

 

In these two areas, skyguide is testing the automated and manual authorisations with a few selected participants who were specially briefed before the start of the trial. For all other participants, this functionality is not available yet, unless specifically approved by the U-Space project team. You can continue to fly within 5 kilometres of airports operated by skyguide, following the legal procedure to obtain an SUA number from the Special Flight Office. https://www.skyguide.ch/en/services/special-flights/

 

 

 

Can I fly with the skyguide U-Space app while connected to the DJI controller?

 

Yes. Once your flight plan has been submitted, you can connect to the DJI controller by simply clicking on the icon which is located in the top right-hand corner.

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I can see some traffic, but not all. Why?

 

The app only informs you about relevant traffic which might be in conflict with your flight, and only traffic detected by air traffic sensors.

 

    

Can I see where other drones are flying?

 

Yes: you can view other drone flights that have been shared publicly to skyguide. We advise you to select “Share my flight” and “Send my telemetry” in the parameters section, so that limited details of your flight are shared with the U-Space community. You will then be visible by other airspace users!

 

Is the manned traffic I see real or only simulated?

 

This is real traffic detection, with a few seconds delay due to the multiple detection technologies involved.

 

What are the sources of air traffic?

 

Skyguide uses various internal and external sources – secondary radar, ADS-B, FLARM and more – to depict the traffic situation.

 

Why do some of the manned aircraft shown have a strange altitude?

 

Some aircraft currently do not show skyguide their correct altitude here. We are working on a solution.

 

If I track my flight on the web app, why doesn’t the icon move?

 

This feature is not yet available.

 

Can I modify one or more details of my flight plan during a flight?

 

No. You must terminate your current flight and submit a modified flight plan.

 

Why can’t I click “Next” immediately in the flight planning phase?

 

This is because the server may take a few seconds to respond.

 

How are DJI multi-camera drones handled?

 

We do not support these yet, but are working on it.

 

Who is responsible for my flights?

 

The operator is the person or entity responsible for the overall management of the operation. The operator must fulfil their regulatory responsibilities, plan their flights and operations, share information on their operational intentions and safely conduct their operations using all the information available.

 

How can I give feedback?

 

Feedback is welcome! Please provide it by connecting to this web application: https://airmap.typeform.com/to/IcYQBO