New ideas take flight in Switzerland: Instead of banning drones, air traffic control is setting up a system in which drone owners have to register each flight in advance via a smartphone.
Until now, Switzerland has had very liberal laws when it comes to operating drones. However, according to estimates by the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) , around 100,000 Swiss inhabitants now have a drone, and therefore the air traffic needs to be better protected. The Swiss air traffic control agency Skyguide wants to integrate the drones into normal air traffic in cooperation with the European Commission .
The European Commission has defined the U-Space: a 150-meter-high flight zone for drones weighing up to 150 kg; this space is where the Swiss drones are to fly. Their owners must register at Skyguide via smartphone and submit their flight plan. Approved drone flights are then monitored by Skyguide. If a collision with another aircraft seems likely, the drone pilot is contacted on their mobile phone.
The development of the registration system, which was presented in Geneva, involved drone manufacturers and service providers. The European Commission is striving for a standardized, European-wide control system for the U-Space, which should resemble the Swiss system.