How ATM is addressing the safe integration of drones into airspace


Eduardo García González, CANSO Manager Europe ATM Coordination and Safety, explores CANSO’s regional approach to drone integration.

The safe, secure, efficient and fair integration of drones into the aviation system is paramount for society – and together with aviation industry partners, CANSO has identified a strategy for success.

Drones can revolutionise many aspects of everyday life. From the way people travel, to agriculture, policing, planning, deliveries, maintenance, asset management and construction, the possibilities are endless. Recent drone related disruptions to aircraft operations at Gatwick, Heathrow, Dublin and Frankfurt have however raised significant questions about how to handle such situations safely and efficiently.

As the global voice of air traffic management (ATM), CANSO is playing an active role in addressing the challenge of welcoming new entrants in airspace; offering best practice guidance to air navigation service providers (ANSPs), and working with aviation industry partners to accommodate the needs of all airspace users and airport operators.

To this end, CANSO has collaborated with 14 other manned aviation organisations and launched We Are All One in the Sky this week. The initiative outlines how the aviation partners are committed to working in close coordination with relevant authorities and law enforcement agencies to protect the security of aircraft operations and facilitate the safe integration of drones.

Together the partners have identified eight areas that need urgent attention from European and national regulators in order to preserve the high levels of safety in European airspace and build a common framework for success. These include:

  1. A comprehensive public awareness campaign on safe drone operations
  2. Mandatory training and certification of drone operators
  3. Regulation to protect airport operations from drone incursions and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder
  4. Effective enforcement of regulations
  5. Better incident reporting
  6. More comprehensive situational awareness of all manned aircraft
  7. Dedicated drone traffic management interoperable with existing ATM systems
  8. Further research on critical areas like contingency procedures, geofencing, surveillance, ATM-drone pilot communication and impact of collisions between drones and all types of manned aircraft.

As part of this recommended approach to tackling safe drone operations in Europe, CANSO and its partners are committed to actively supporting and working with all the stakeholders and authorities on the development and implementation of the measures outlined.  As the campaign highlights, “there is only one sky and all stakeholders, new and traditional, need to collaborate to keep it safe, secure, efficient and fair”.

Through the power of partnership, a strong regional focus and a holistic approach to effective drone management and incident prevention, CANSO is confident that the safe and fair integration of drones into our skies can be achieved. What we do today will change the future of aviation, and every stakeholder has an important role to play.

The ‘We Are All One in the Sky Airlines’ partners are:

  • Airlines for Europe (A4E)
  • Airports Council International Europe (ACI EUROPE)
  • Association International Representation in Europe (AIRE) 
  • Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC) 
  • Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) 
  • European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) 
  • European Cockpit Association (ECA) 
  • European Helicopter Association (EHA) 
  • European Regions Airline Association (ERAA)
  • European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) 
  • International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA)
  • International Air Transport Association (IATA) 
  • International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) 
  • International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) 
  • International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA) 

For more information about CANSO’s work to promote the safe integration on drones or CANSO’s regional initiatives in Europe, please get in touch.