LFV is participating in projects to improve coordination between aircraft and drones

6 April 2017

LFV and the Swedish Transport Administration are looking into smart solutions for tomorrow's air traffic. In the spring they will be starting a research project on drones to examine how to improve coordination between civil air traffic and drones.

Drones are unmanned aircraft that are used for commercial, private and military applications. The police and emergency services are interested in using drones for searches, either for criminals or missing persons. The market has expanded rapidly and many suppliers have started to sell inexpensive drones with cameras.

This trend has started to disrupt air traffic. At present, an airport must be shut down if a drone is detected in the vicinity. This has affected Stockholm Bromma Airport and Stockholm Arlanda Airport in particular and has led to delays for airports, airlines and their passengers.

The research project will examine whether it is possible to have drones in an airport control zone without requiring the airport to be shut down or leading to major consequences for other traffic, says Peder Blom, air traffic controller at LFV and project participant.

"Through better coordination between air traffic and drones we can achieve higher safety levels and a more stable capacity in airspace," says Marie Fridolin, operations control manager, R&I, Swedish Transport Administration. More reliable coordination will also give positive effects for the environment.

The project, which is financed by the Swedish Transport Administration, started this year with planning and concept description. Simulation of air traffic combined with drones is planned for 2018 at the LFV test centre at Malmö Airport. In 2019 there will be a test flight with a drone helicopter from Saab, another partner in the project.

The helicopter will be equipped with hardware and software, camera and sensors to enable the unmanned aircraft to detect and avoid other aircraft.

"The design of the airspace and its regulations as they stand today are based on traditional manned flights. Results from the project may also be the basis for changes to the regulations, which the Swedish Transport Administration and the European Aviation Safety Authority, EASA, are working with," says Peder Blom.

The project was presented at the Swedish Transport Administration's Research and Innovation Day in the air traffic sector on Thursday, 23 March at Stockholm Arlanda Airport.  The Research and Innovation unit (R&I) at the Swedish Transport Administration is running about 600 research projects related to future transportation systems that can contribute to an accessible and sustainable society.

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