Avinor Air Navigation Services (ANS), in conjunction with Frequentis and Altitude Angel, is working to implement an unmanned traffic management (UTM) system at 18 airport towers across Norway. The system, which is the first in the Nordic region, is being tested in a real-world environment at the first two airport towers, and will then be rolled out nationwide.
The project in Norway supports the Norwegian government’s strategy for the increased safe use of drones, which includes the tackling of the rising number of reported drone-related incidents and airspace violations. The UTM system provides an operational overview of the airspace and allows two-way communication between air traffic control (ATC) and drone operators. It provides Norway’s Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), Avinor ANS, with the means to accelerate the safe integration of drones into civil airspace, evolving the commercial use of the technology to generate sustainable revenue streams.
Frequentis, working with Altitude Angel, has provided the Common Information Services (CIS) function, including a foundation of U-space (unmanned airspace) services. This allows Avinor ANS to open Norwegian airspace to commercial drone use and includes an operator portal with a fleet management system, as well as web and mobile flight planning capabilities. Flight plans can be automatically created and amended, and flight requests approved or declined, while temporary or permanent no fly zones can also be configured in the system. All aspects of the solution can be operated from a cloud environment.
CIS provides a “single source of truth” for relevant safety information to reach connected stakeholders. Integrated by open and standardised APIs, it provides U-space services including strategic deconfliction, conformance monitoring, and capacity management. Automation is used to increase efficiency; however, controllers and operators remain in full control and are contactable when required for emergency handling.
Axel Knutsen, Avinor ANS Vice President UTM, commented: “To manage the increasing number of requests from drone operators we require a digitalised system to replace as much of the manual operations as possible. The ability to implement real-time no-drone zones, provide geo-awareness, flight approvals, and easy access to drone operator contact information will improve safety for both Avinor ANS and all airspace users. This phased roll-out of UTM at the first two airports will allow the local drone community to use the applications and provide feedback ahead of a nationwide rollout.”
Hannu Juurakko, Frequentis Vice President ATM Civil and Chairman of the ATM Executive Team, said: “The UTM system is now operational at Bodø Airport and Kristiansund Airport. We are pleased to be working closely with Avinor ANS on their goals for commercial drone use, shaping the future of UTM together. By providing an advanced drone management environment that integrates both manned and unmanned traffic, we ensure information flow between all relevant stakeholders in real-time.”
Chris Forster, Chief Operations Officer at Altitude Angel, stated: “We’re excited to see the first phase of the project, and the Ninox Drone app, go live. This is the first of what we envisage being many important milestones as we support, with our partners and Avinor ANS, Norway’s drone ecosystem. The potential for UAVs to facilitate new possibilities, new industries and new businesses is immense. Avinor is leading the way in deploying Ninox Drone to serve – and catalyse – the emerging drone economy.”