On Sunday, a British Airways Airbus A320 approaching Heathrow Airport reported that it collided with what the pilots believe was a drone, according to BBC. While the pilots conducted a safe landing, the incident raises questions about the safety of UK airports, and potential government and industry efforts to prevent such events.  This blog post will briefly discuss the UK CAA regulations related to flight of unmanned aircraft near airports, and three AirMap powered solutions that help to prevent such incidents.

UK CAA Regulations

Chapter 1 of CAP 722 outlines the policies, constraints and regulations that are to be adhered to when conducting UAS operations within UK airspace.

For the purposes of this post, sections 1.36 and 1.37 are most relevant. Unlike FAA regulations in the United States, there is not a requirement that sUAS give notice to aerodromes when operating within close proximity to those facilities. However, contact with the local ATS is “strongly recommended” and contact details for ATS and aerodromes is provided. Additionally, sUAS operating in the UK are “strongly advised” to remain at least 5 kilometers away from charted aerodromes.

Here are the relevant excerpts from CAA regulations:

“In practical terms, SUA of any mass could present a particular hazard when operating near an aerodrome or other landing site due to the presence of manned aircraft taking off and landing. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that contact with the relevant ATS unit is made prior to conducting such a flight. As in paragraph 1.34, advice and information may be provided on the local air situation that will help the operator satisfy themselves that the flight can safely be made. Such information provided by the ATS unit does not constitute or infer an approval to operate in the airspace and does not absolve the operator from the responsibility for avoiding all other aircraft. Contact details for aerodromes and ATS units can be found in the AD section of the UK AIP.

“Operators of any SUA of mass 7 kg or less, are strongly advised for collision avoidance purposes, to remain clear of charted aerodromes by at least a distance of 5 km, whether or not the aerodrome is in controlled airspace or has an associated ATZ.”

The Digital Notice and Awareness System (D-NAS) 

AirMap’s Digital Notice and Awareness System (D-NAS) delivers safety and security to aerodromes and makes it easy for UAS operators to provide airports with real-time safety critical information about the location of UAS operations.

Over 50 United States aerodromes or aerodrome systems like Houston’s George Bush, Intercontinental, and William P. Hobby airports, Denver International Airport, Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, Charlotte-Douglas Airport in North Carolina, and Portland International Airport are already using D-NAS and news of the launch appeared in The Washington Post, TheVerge, TechCrunch, The Next Web, AOPA, and others.

D-NAS offers an easy, secure, and digital means for small UAS operators to establish contact with ATS and aerodromes and gives those personnel situational awareness of where small UAS are operating in proximity to the aerodrome.

Awareness for Operators: AirMap on the Web, AirMap iOS App, Integrations, and AirMap SDK

In addition to the Digital Notice and Awareness System, UAS operators can access AirMap’s accurate, dynamic, and trustworthy airspace and situational awareness data in real-time through a variety of UAS interfaces.

AirMap is working with leading manufacturers like DJI, Yuneec, 3DRobotics, and others to integrate airspace data directly into the apps produced by those companies.  AirMap also makes available a direct link between those apps and the Digital Notice and Awareness System.

AirMap’s API is available as an SDK to a community of over 250+ third-party developers building the next generation of applications for safe and secure drone flight.

Finally, any drone operator can learn more about when and where to fly by accessing AirMap’s iOS app or navigating to AirMap.com in an Internet browser.

Geofencing as Implemented by Manufacturers

Leading UAS manufacturer DJI has partnered with AirMap to power GEO, a best-in-class geospatial information system, with that combines AirMap’s dynamic, real-time airspace information, a warning and flight-restriction system, a mechanism for unlocking (self-authorizing) drone flights in locations where flight is permitted under certain conditions, and a minimally invasive accountability system for those decisions.

Partner with AirMap

AirMap is the world’s leading provider of airspace information and services for unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones. Developed by experts in drone technology, aviation, and policy, AirMap’s cutting-edge technology transforms airspace below 500 feet to create an interconnected drone ecosystem. AirMap provides accurate, reliable, and trustworthy low-altitude navigational data and communication tools to the drone industry: inventors of drones & drone technology, drone operators, and airspace stakeholders.

We invite you to join our rapidly expanding global network of hundreds of partners and thousands of app users. Reach out to jillian@airmap.com to learn more.