World first: Droneguide PRO places Belgian drone industry in pole position

news corporate featured

World first: skeyes, Belgium's Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), and the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority released Droneguide PRO today. Droneguide PRO automates the administrative process for professional drone operators and pilots via a web based application that automates flight planning, including flight requests, derogations and approval management. This is an important step towards the viability of the drone sector, providing a significant boost to the Belgian drone industry.


Unifly, skeyes, BCAA and François Bellot, Belgian Minister for Mobility and Transport, posing for a photo after a live demonstration

Unifly, skeyes, BCAA and François Bellot, Belgian Minister for Mobility and Transport, posing for a photo after a live demonstration

Marc Kegelaers, CEO of Unifly, said: “Over the last few months, the Unifly team has been using it’s Unifly UTM system in European U-space projects including PODIUM, SAFIR, GOF, VUTURA, USIS, CLASS and SAFEDRONE. Together with the main players in this industry, we have been demonstrating that the necessary technology to integrate drones into the airspace safely is becoming available. Today, we have taken it a step further.

skeyes, the Belgian ANSP, together with the Belgian CAA have introduced DroneGuide Pro. This is a world’s first. It is the first time that a wide set of UTM/U-space services is being introduced nationwide in an operational environment.

As of today and based on Unifly’s technology, functions like registration, geo-awareness, dynamic airspace management, flight planning, strategic deconfliction, multi-level flight approval processes etc… are no longer items on a wish list, but are functions that are available to drone operators as well as national and local authorities.

The idea became reality. The experience that we have gained as a company by implementing this national digital infrastructure at scale will serve our other existing and prospective customers and will contribute significantly to the safe integration of drones in the airspace.

I am so incredibly proud of the Unifly team for all the efforts, hard work and dedication that made this happen.”

Until now, professional drone operators were required to manually request their flight approvals and derogations. For drone operators, this meant a lot of paperwork and administrative delay.

With the new automated process, drone operators are able to conduct their business in a more efficient and streamlined manner. Drone operators and pilots can now fully focus on flying and securing projects, with Droneguide PRO simplifying the administrative aspect.

skeyes and the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport are launching an extended version of the Droneguide application. Professional drone users in Belgium are required as from tomorrow to notify their flights via this application.

Recreational drone users can find information about the regulation and all they need to know to use their drone. They can also check where it is allowed to fly. Droneguide is very successful: every month, some 18,000 drones users (unique visitors) use the application.

At the request of skeyes and the FPS Mobility and Transport, Unifly has developed a specific Droneguide version for professional drones users. The updated version contains all the features they need to plan and manage their flights.

François Bellot, Belgian Minister for Mobility: "Drones are a 21st century technology. It is therefore essential that the framework is also modern and that the data exchange between the actors is rapid and clear. With the completion of Droneguide, we are now taking this last step.
Drone pilots, Air Navigation Service Provider skeyes and FPS Mobility and Transport services will save time on a daily basis thanks to this application and will be able to focus even better and more on safety, an absolute priority in aviation.”
Johan Decuyper, skeyes CEO: "With the Droneguide application, we were already a pioneer. This extended version is no less than a world first: nowhere else in the world, flight requests or derogations can be made via a comparable tool. From the beginning, skeyes has recognised the economic interest of unmanned aviation and the societal value of its multiple concrete applications.
We support the sector in its development and will continue to do so. Our role has always been to ensure the safety of air traffic, also for unmanned aircraft. Information and practical support tools such as Droneguide are an important first step.”
Emmanuelle Vandamme, President of the FPS Mobility and Transport: "The European single market for drones is under construction and the first common regulations are emerging. The drone manufacturer and operator sectors will see significant growth opportunities. The mission of the FPS Mobility and Transport must continue to evolve in this respect in the coming years.
The administration is actively preparing for these technological developments in its roles as regulator and partner in ambitious projects. Through its missions, it intends to support the promotion of innovation.
In this manner, the FPS is continuing its digital transformation. Droneguide is a significant example of this, for it extends the online services available to our aviation customers through our Aviation Portal launched last week. It simplifies the procedures for the approximately 1,100 licensed drone pilots in Belgium (class 1) and improves airspace safety.”

Via the online portal, Class 1 (A and B) operators can register, make flight notifications and obtain the necessary data from the FPS Mobility and Transport.

Pilots can plan their operation and obtain validation via the convenient online tool or via the mobile application. They can also notify their flight to the authorities. New Class 1A flight requests are taken into account during the validation process. For active applications, the documents of the request file can be displayed.

For their part, the authorities receive an overview of all planned operations and see all active operations on the map, including those that are about to start.

Class 2 operators can also plan their flights via the tool. However, they are not required to make a flight request or to notify their flights.

Nothing changes for recreational drone users.

Until now, professional drone users have notified their flights via an online form. Derogation requests even had to be sent by e-mail using a Word document. From now on, both actions will have to be carried out via the application. A transition period is scheduled until 11 December 2019 at midnight. During this period, requests may still be processed using the "old method" on an exceptional basis.

From now on, users can submit all their requests via the application, but also view their flights via Droneguide maps, manage their entire fleet and keep an overview of their flight history.

In order to use the application, professional drone users must first register via CSAM. The FPS Mobility and Transport provides secure access via eID, itsme, mobile application or SMS. A main access manager controls the use of all the features of the application and can also designate optional access managers.

Read more here.