A new app from the air traffic control provider NATS could provide a partial solution to the problem of where drones are allowed to be flown. The issue has become an increasing challenge for those in the events sector who would like to fully exploit their potential.
There has been a significant increase in reports of near misses between drones and commercial aircraft in the UK during the past year.
Drone Assist, powered by Altitude Angel and available for free on Android and iOS from 3 December, presents drone pilots with an interactive map of areas of airspace used by commercial air traffic. Drone operators planning to fly near these areas, usually around airports and airfields, should ideally avoid them or exercise great caution.
The app also contains a ‘Fly Now’ feature that will share the user’s drone flight location with other app users, and the wider drone community, helping to reduce the risk of a drone related incident.
Phil Binks, NATS drone lead, said: “With the number of drone incidents on the rise, it’s clear that many people are unaware of the rules or their legal obligations as pilots. Drone Assist is designed to help everyone abide by the rules, identify areas of controlled and restricted airspace and help them enjoy flying whilst ensuring their safety and the safety of other airspace users.
“We’re delighted to have partnered with Altitude Angel to develop a tool that we hope will help improve drone safety in the UK and lead the way in international best practice.”
The UK Airprox Board, which investigates reports of aircraft near misses, has so far reported on approximately 50 drone incidents this year up from 11 during 2015.