Air Traffic Control The Netherlands (LVNL) in cooperation with Dutch Drone Delta conducted a successful test run, during which air traffic control instructions were issued to a drone pilot via the GoDrone app. The test took place in the controlled airspace around Rotterdam The Hague Airport, supervised by the control tower. The aim of the test was for LVNL to gain knowledge and experience for further development towards an operational UTM system for managing unmanned aircraft, which will eventually make it possible to provide air traffic control for drone pilots.
The test system used in this test run can visualise the planned flight area, monitor the flight path of the reported drone flights in real time, issue and revoke clearances and instructions, and provide air traffic information to the drone pilot. The drone pilot can confirm the clearances and instructions via the GoDrone app. This makes it possible for air traffic controllers to guide drones during their flight. A drone transponder that transmits data to the UTM system via KPN’s 4G/5G network was also tested. The test was conducted in cooperation with Altitude Angel, the supplier of the GoDrone app, as well as Dutch Drone Delta partners ANWB, KPN and Airhub.
‘The success of this test is an important milestone for us,’ says Jurgen van Avermaete, General Manager of Procedures at LVNL. ‘By succeeding in this test, LVNL has delivered the next step towards safe air traffic control for manned and unmanned flights in the same airspace. In controlled airspace, this also means providing air traffic control to drone pilots. This is a challenging task, which we are addressing in close cooperation with our Dutch Drone Delta partners. We are not there yet, but the success shows that we are on the right track.’
It is also an exceptional day for Dutch Drone Delta. Stephan van Vuren, Project Manager for the Dutch Drone Delta Foundation: ‘Within Dutch Drone Delta, we envision a future in which drones – in the form of Urban Air Mobility – are a fully-fledged and accepted form of mobility, with a positive impact on society, our economy and the environment. To achieve this, it is essential to have a safe, reliable and efficient UTM system in the Netherlands. This test marked an important step in that direction, and we are looking forward to taking the next steps together, working with all stakeholders, to eventually implement this system on a larger scale.’
ANWB carried out the drone test. ‘We flew these tests with our medical drone that we use for the Medical Drone Service,’ says Robert Heidekamp, Drone Operations Manager at ANWB. ‘In the context of the Medical Drone Service, ANWB and PostNL are working with various partners to explore how drones can contribute to bringing care to the right place at the right time. Examples include emergency transport of blood, samples and medication to hospitals. This deployment will only be possible if drones are properly integrated into the airspace. This test is a good step in that direction.’
Since the GoDrone app was launched in April 2020, drone pilots have been able to see the zones in which they can and cannot fly. In addition, professional drone pilots can map out their provisional flight plan for drone flights in controlled airspace and submit it for approval. The operating system was updated several times over the past year. The final goal is to ensure that drones and other air traffic can move safely through the same airspace, now and in the future. The test system that has been developed can help make that happen.