In Belgium, a company is working on a project that aims to avoid dangerous close encounters between drones and other air traffic. Drones have taken on an important function, be it for surveillance, transport, work tools or simple toys, but they can pose a threat to air traffic if they veer into airspace reserved for scheduled flights.
Koen Vrints, owner of Friend Productions, a Belgian company that manufactures drones designed for the film and television industry, says that detailed knowledge of the airspace is needed, given the close proximity to Antwerp’s airport.
Mr. Vrints states that “the moment you take a course you get a lot of information on the airspace. We get plans where we can visually see where locations are, where control zones from an airport are, where a helicopter training area is and how we have to look at it on the plan.”
The importance of that information is growing as the billion euro drone market is anticipated to generate tens of thousands of jobs.
Belgian company Unifly has developed software designed to assist drone pilots to navigate the varied and complex rules for drones. The company’s free smartphone app looks at where you want to fly and tells you whether the area is unrestricted, if special authorisation is required, or if drones are forbidden. By using the latest apps they allow a virtual dome to be mapped over the area where the drone is operated. It prevents the drone from swerving into unauthorised airspace by creating a virtual wall.