Air traffic controllers at Lille and Rennes airports adopt Thales’s TopSky UAS solution for unmanned air traffic management


Thales’s TopSky – UAS solution is already in service in Lille, in northern France, and has now been adopted by air traffic controllers at Rennes airport in Brittany to manage unmanned air traffic. The solution makes the flight request process more efficient, helping drone operators to gain easier access to airspace.

The DSNA launched the “U-Space Together” initiative in response to the growing number of drone operations and the continuing need to ensure safe, efficient airspace management. Thales was selected to support air traffic controllers at Lille and Rennes airports in meeting these new challenges.

TopSky – UAS automates analysis of the regulatory compliance of planned flight data, interfaces with France’s national register of drone operators (AlphaTango) to verify the data entered, and manages the process of reviewing flight requests in line with local protocols. This automatic analysis function enables drone operators and air traffic controllers to concentrate on the operational aspects of the flight requests, simplifying administrative procedures, reducing error rates and lightening the workload of the different groups of users.

TopSky – UAS includes specific user interfaces for air navigation services and administrative services, and is interoperable with third-party solutions such as the Clearance application for drone operators. Thales and the air navigation services at Lille and Rennes will also explore tactical functions including drone tracking in flight and alert procedures if an unmanned aircraft deviates from its approved flight path.

“The TopSky – UAS solution is the result of two years of close collaboration between air traffic controllers at Lille, the local administrative services (Préfecture du Nord) and Thales,” said Géry Grave, Head of Quality and Safety, DSNA air navigation services (Nord). “It significantly improves the handling of local drone flight requests and allows air traffic controllers at Lille to manage drone operations more efficiently in real time. Beyond the solution itself, TopSky – UAS is a starting point in the effort to meet the future challenges of U-Space.” 

Christian Rivierre, Vice President, Airspace Mobility Solutions, Thales, added: “The partnership with the DSNA is a key part of Thales’s efforts to provide safe and efficient unmanned air traffic management services to the UAS community. It is also a unique opportunity to draw on the operational experience of the DSNA and France’s vibrant ecosystem of drone operators.” 

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