As the drone industry continues to evolve, Altitude Angel, a UTM (Unified Traffic Management) technology provider, is taking a bold step to propel the UK to the forefront of the world's most advanced nations for drone operations and service readiness. From Monday onwards, all UK airports will be equipped with the ability to become 'UTM Ready,' setting a significant digital milestone in the country's aviation infrastructure.
While countries like Japan, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Italy have seen their drone ecosystems develop rapidly due to regulatory advancements, none have managed to deploy a standard, nationwide, digital approval service across their airport infrastructure. This is where Altitude Angel aims to make a difference by connecting operators and future air taxi pilots across the UK to a unified platform for submitting flight requests in the controlled airspace of over 120 airports through the Drone Assist app and DroneSafetyMap.com.
Aviation Minister Baroness Vere acknowledged the importance of this development, stating, "Aviation goes beyond the traditional modes of flying and is fast becoming a hub of revolutionary new methods of flight so it’s important that the UK is ready for the next generation of flight." She further emphasized that this platform will enhance accessibility to airspace for innovative aircraft and contribute to the ambitious outcomes set by the Future of Flight Industry Group.
The Approval Services platform enables airports connected to it to approve or decline flight requests digitally, providing operators with prompt responses in some cases. For airports still relying on analogue processes, Altitude Angel will assist the operator by issuing a detailed summary of the planned UAS (Uncrewed Aircraft Systems) operation to ensure compliance with the Air Navigation Order 2016's Article 94A. This seamless approach aims to provide a consistent experience for drone operators at any airport.
Richard Parker, CEO, and founder of Altitude Angel, emphasized the significance of this development, stating, "This is a major step for the UK as we put in place the foundations on which our [the UK's] future transport and delivery infrastructure will be built." By embracing digitization in drone approvals for managed airspace, the UK is paving the way for safe and secure coexistence between UAS and crewed aircraft, marking the first step towards automated drone operations.
Altitude Angel's UTM Ready program classifies airports into three categories based on their ability to approve drone operations digitally and outlines a pathway for advancement to higher levels. A UTM Ready airport will have full digital approvals available, while Basic airports will support electronic notification. Legacy airports, on the other hand, offer slower or analogue means of seeking approval.
In addition to this milestone, Altitude Angel recently introduced upgrades to Drone Assist, offering 'one-tap flight authorizations' at connected airports and facilities worldwide. As the go-to flight planning app for drone pilots, Drone Assist is poised to play a pivotal role in building the foundation for the UK's burgeoning £40 billion drone economy.