In June 2020, skyguide released its U-Space web and mobile app enabling drone operators to efficiently plan and operate a flight in Swiss airspace including airspace around airports. With the information about airspace restrictions provided by the app, drone operators know whether a skyguide approval is required or not for their operations. Such flights requiring skyguide approval still need to trigger skyguide’s standard Special Flight Office approval process.
With the next version of the U-Space app, to be released early 2021, skyguide introduces the concept of U-Space Facility Maps (UFM) for airports starting with Zurich, Geneva, Dübendorf and Lugano. These maps define the height limits in specific quadrants of the airspace around an airport (5km perimeter) in which a drone could operate without requiring approval from the Special Flight Office (SFO). Instead, the Low Altitude Authorisation and Notification Capability (LAANC) module of our U-Space system will automatically process the flight plan and issue the approval allowing the drone operator to execute the flight accordingly. Using the UFM concept, the number of requests that require a manual handling by the SFO of skyguide will be greatly reduced. The U-Space platform is capable of integrating UFMs for other airports as well. If you are an airport operating in Switzerland or want to know more about it, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on LAANC for your airport.
At the same time, the process for special flight request, which is still required for drone flights beyond the height limits, is going digital. skyguide has implemented the SFO process on the U-Space platform with the objective of increasing the efficiency and shortening the lead time for special flight requests over time.
The drone operator can now enter the special flight request into a web application, add additional data as necessary, and send it to the SFO at skyguide. All stakeholder involved in analysing and approving the request will have access to the same flight plan and its associated data. Based on the approved flight plan, the drone operator then can create an activity that announces the exact date and time intended for the flight. The air traffic control receives the activity information in the tower of the airport concerned and will issue a permission to fly. Depending on the airport, it may still be necessary to call the tower before the flight.
This is another step in enabling safe drone operations in Switzerland. For more information see https://www.skyguide.ch/swiss-u-space/