• 14 March, 2018

How can I fly over agglomerations of buildings?

How can I fly over agglomerations of buildings?

How can I fly over agglomerations of buildings? 150 150 Drones Mallorca

Conference "The use of drones at the municipal level"

This morning we had the pleasure of attending the information day "The use of drones at the municipal level", organized by the Spanish Association of Airlines (AECA) and gesdron. The meeting dealt with the different aspects of the integration of air operations with drones in urban areas as foreseen in the new Royal Decree 1036/2017 approved in December last year. According to the new law, drones are no longer prohibited from flying over agglomerations of buildings, but now local administrations have to assume their role both in regulating the use of public spaces of their competence and in the operation of RPAS from their institutions for services of public interest such as police surveillance, emergency response, spatial planning, etc.

We have had the presence of several experts on the subject, including the president of AECA, and each one has contributed his point of view on the subject in his field. This is a summary of the points that we consider most important of the interventions:

Felipe Navio, president of AECA

The president has made a brief introduction giving some figures on the unmanned aviation sector, background and future. As a relevant figure in terms of the potential of the sector, he has estimated that in the next decade we will have a participation of unmanned aviation in the total sector of:

  • 10% in the air transport of goods
  • 80% in aerial work
  • The transport of people with drones is already a reality and may be increasing

As you can see, these are not insignificant figures that represent a turnover of the order of billions, so it is expected that the expansion of the sector will grow exponentially in the coming years.

Antonio Mota, Aeronautical Engineer. CEO of Aerosolutions

Mr. Mota has told us about the most practical aspects of drone operation today. According to him, the three big stones in the way of unmanned aviation are:

  • Flight autonomy

We have been put in background regarding the work that several Spanish companies are doing in these aspects for years that position them in the world lead. For example, the manufacture of drones with hybrid power technology, with combustion engine combined with electric motors, or the use of a captive drone with cable power for surveillance in the Mobile World Congress by the Mossos d'Escuadra. These technologies are aimed at overcoming one of the biggest limitations of RPAS flight today: flight autonomy.

  • The radius of action

The vast majority of consumer drones communicate with control stations in the 2.4GHz band, an open band, which poses safety risks and limits the drones' radius of action by link signal range. In the next 2-3 years we will see 5G control technology develop, which will allow pilots to control unmanned aircraft virtually without distance limitations, as if it were a phone call.

  • Legal limitations

Until now, the law in force established important limitations on the operation of drones. However, the RD 1036/2017 that comes into force now eliminates a large part of the restrictions, giving the RPAS sector the ability to compete with other aviation agents. To materialize these operations, air traffic control measures must be implemented, among others, and work is already underway in this regard with the U-Space system.

U-space on screen

speaker commenting on the U-Space

air traffic control system

In addition, it is expected that this summer the European regulations will be approved, which is already drafted in the document "opinion 01/2018" and will introduce a new regulatory framework to which European states must adapt within 2 years, with which the current legislative changes have an expiration date. The European law will introduce 3 categories of operation, independent of the weight of the aircraft, and 4 classes of drone according to their capabilities, qualified or not for the different operations.

The figure of the DTO (Declared Training Organization) is introduced, a less restrictive figure than the ATOs that will be able to offer specific instruction for drones of the lower operating classes.

A new data protection law will also enter into force to which RPAS operators will have to adapt.

Pablo Morera, Aeronautical Engineer. Managing Director Gesdron

Mr. Morera has told us about the important role of management of low-altitude unmanned aerial activity that local administrations must assume. For reasons of both safety and regulation, the municipalities will take a role of special importance in terms of the control of drone operations carried out in their spaces, since they are the closest administrations and with more means than AESA for the control of the operation of drones. Although the competences on the airspace are only state, if they can regulate the use of their spaces in 2 concepts:

  • The private use of land for take-offs and landings
  • The occupation of public roads by safety zones that must be closed under flight paths

For the performance of these functions, fees will be adopted that support the administrative structure necessary for the management of these aspects.

It is also expected that by being able to fly over urban centers, the municipalities begin to act as operators developing departments in their own agencies and training their own personnel, or on the contrary externalize the service by hiring private operating companies. In any case, a range of uses of drones for the administration that are expected to begin to be carried out is opened. Urban and cadastral control, security and heritage surveillance, data collection for environmental studies and a long etcetera are uses that the different departments and police will have to cover with their own or external means.

It has been a pleasure to hear all this information and much more from some of the most respected experts on this subject at the national level.


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