Skyguide is making good progress towards its environmental objectives. With the planned improvements to its air traffic handling and its own energy consumption, the main efficiency gains will all be achieved. After this, further interests can be prioritised anew, because the different demands that are made of them currently prevent Europe’s air navigation servicesproviders from fully exploiting the potential offered by the operational actions.
To ensure that it continues to make its own contribution to reducing aviation’s carbon dioxide emissions, skyguide will be focusing on developing further new flight procedures and green innovations, and on safely integrating highly efficient aircraft or new technologies such as drones into airspace areas.
In the transportation sector in particular, drones offer sizeable potential for establishing themselves as an energy-efficient alternative to traditional transport vehicles. Skyguide has also adopted drones to perform some 50% of the calibration flights which previously had to be conducted using a specially equipped aircraft – a development that will save 142 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year from 2020 onwards.
Skyguide also participated in a feasibility study for taxi drones in 2018, as part of a broader European initiative on urban innovations. The study, which was jointly conducted with Canton Geneva and the Federal Office of Civil Aviation, showed that the basic conditions were available in Switzerland for prototype taxi drones to be developed.
The project will be further pursued in 2020 with the aim of performing some of the non-time-critical patient transports between the Geneva university hospitals and the Trois Chênes geriatric hospital with taxi drones in the longer term. Over 30 000 patients a year are currently transported between these hospitals by car. One third of such transports could in future be performed with drones.
Drone technology is still in its early stages, and further economically and socially relevant applications are sure to be found. These developments will bring challenges of their own – such as ensuring the safe integration of these new traffic elements into Switzerland’s airspace. But skyguide views drone development as a clear opportunity, and will continue to do its utmost to help provide the favourable conditions in which this growing industry can thrive.