NATS, a leading air traffic services provider, has put drones centre stage as it announces partnership to bolster drones in UK airspace.
The London-based organisation has partnered with drone traffic management solutions company Altitude Angel to safely integrate drones safe into UK skies.
The two organisations have entered a long-term partnership to develop unmanned traffic management solutions that can be integrated and interact with conventional air traffic control.
The new framework represents a shift in industry and demonstrates an understanding of the need for more collaboration between manned and unmanned air traffic management experts in order to increase situational awareness amongst all airspace users and their downstream service providers.
As the number of unmanned aircraft grows, increasing the visibility of drone flights is crucial to keep the skies safe.
The partnership between NATS and Altitude Angel will drive the integration of drone flight and operational data with information and systems involved in managing manned aviation. Merging the two information streams will increase situational awareness amongst all legitimate airspace users and provide the digital foundations necessary to allow air traffic controllers to engage with drone operators.
This partnership lays the foundation for a future whereby access to lower level airspace could increasingly be granted digitally. It links knowledge of an operator’s aircraft, qualifications and mission, pioneering a new form of airspace management suited to the changing use of our skies.
David Harrison, NATS director of safety, said: “It is vital that the UK puts in place the right infrastructure to enable this country to be at the forefront of this exciting industry whilst protecting the safety of conventional aviation.
“The increasing popularity of commercial drone operations and the growing number of drone-related incidents makes it essential that we take steps now to help make this happen and this new partnership will get the UK’s unmanned traffic industry off to a safe, flying start. We are excited to be partnering with Altitude Angel in this innovative venture.”
Richard Parker, founder and CEO of Altitude Angel, added: “This partnership with NATS signals that innovative, global ANSPs recognise and desire to work with the best technology providers in the sector, and the importance for ANSPs to be involved in the emergence of UTM capabilities. We believe that partnerships like this are the future for driving innovation while safeguarding the skies.”