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Drone operations in Spanish airspace “increase exponentially in recent years”

By Chris Stonor

Spain has experienced an exponential growth in drone operation activity during recent years, reports canso-org.

CANSO, the voice of the country’s air traffic management (ATM) industry, says that in 2020 alone, drone operations co-ordinated by ENAIRE (the air navigation manager for Spain and Western Sahara) totalled 1,646, a 207 percent increase compared to 2019 (536) and 362 percent more than in 2018 (358).

These figures were presented by the head of ENAIRE’s Drone Business Development Dept, Daniel García-Monteavaro, who took part in a recent webinar entitled “Drones and Spanish talent: Pioneering R&D projects in the aeronautical sector”. Organised by Garrigues and AEDAE (Spanish Association of Aeronautical and Space Law), some of the most innovative Spanish drone projects developed were showcased.

Daniel García-Monteavaro

García-Monteavaro, commented, “The increasing activity in the drone sector poses a challenge for safely managing operations in coordination with manned aviation,” who went on to highlight the plans of ENAIRE to implement the U-space regulation, approved last February and to go into effect in 2023. This regulation involves the automated management of drone operations, as well as for those associated with Urban Air Mobility (UAM), expected in 2025.

In the initial phase, U-space “will be constrained to a defined, segregated airspace designated for the exclusive use of drones”, although in the future it will be able to guarantee drone operations in all operating environments and airspaces (including at very low levels).

For the deployment of U-space, the regulation “lays out the services needed for its operation, such as remote identification, authorised flight service, geo-awareness, as well as the Common Information Service (CIS),” an essential set of dynamic and static data supplied reliably and in real time to ensure the safety and efficiency of operations.

ENAIRE is playing a key role in managing unmanned aerial traffic, as well as a provider of CIS services nationwide. The planning for the deployment of U-space includes, between 2021 and 2022, “the validation and implementation of basic services for users, and later, in 2023, the launch of the CISP (Common Information Service Provider).” At the same time, ENAIRE will play a secondary role as a public USSP (U-space Service Provider) for government and law enforcement agencies, among others.

During the webinar,García-Monteavaro also discussed some of the pilot initiatives under the Single European Sky (SESAR JU) framework, the flights for which will be carried out in 2022.

Specifically, air taxi flights in Spain will begin in Santiago de Compostela (AMU-LED project) and Villacarrillo, Jaén (USPACE4UAM project), as will parcel flights at Playa de Casteldefels in Barcelona (CORUS-XUAM Project).

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