ANSL and Skyports collaborate on CAA Innovation Sandbox project

ANSL and Skyports Drone Services will collaborate to develop plans for the UK's first low-level Transponder Mandatory Zone in the West of Scotland.

ANSL and Skyports collaborate on CAA Innovation Sandbox project

Air Navigation Solutions (ANSL) has joined Skyports Drone Services in the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) Sandbox, a space where companies can test innovative airspace solutions.

ANSL, an air traffic management provider, and Skyports Drone Services, a drone operations company, will collaborate to develop plans for the UK's first low-level Transponder Mandatory Zone (TMZ) in the West of Scotland. The project's goal is to provide safe and equitable access for all airspace users, including crewed and uncrewed aircraft.

ANSL and Skyports Drone Services are collaborating with the CAA's Innovation team to develop an operational safety case for BVLOS operations. This will allow the two companies to flesh out their plans and intentions for the TMZ operation, as well as investigate regulatory perspectives and the feasibility of the proposal, before formally submitting them for approval. A critical component of ANSL and Skyports' development work is actively engaging stakeholders to solicit ongoing feedback.

Vicki Hughes, ATM Operations Specialist at ANSL, which is leading the TMZ development activity, said: "We are excited to be continuing our work with the CAA's innovation team. This will allow us the space to build on our innovative plans with Skyports and to have expert reviews while evolving our safety work. This initiative delivers on a key part of the Government's aviation strategy to ensure new technology is integrated in a safe, secure and sustainable way."

Jef Geudens, Head of Technology at Skyports Drone Services added, "Participating in the Innovation Sandbox enables us to build on work we have already conducted throughout Scotland to facilitate safe airspace for crewed and uncrewed aircraft alike. Partnering with ANSL as we continue this work allows us to combine our strengths, leveraging ANSL's extensive experience in air traffic management and Skyports' BVLOS drone operations to develop a permanent, low-level airspace solution for the region."

Frederic Laugere, Innovation Services Lead at the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said, "Exploring the options of how drones can be safely and successfully incorporated into more of the UK's airspace is a key project for the CAA's innovation team and our sandbox work. It is vital that projects such as this take place to feed into the overall knowledge and experiences that will soon enable drones to be operating beyond the line of sight of their operator on a day-to-day basis, while also still allowing safe use of the air by other users."

ANSL has a track record of providing air traffic management services in Scotland. It has provided air traffic control for Edinburgh Airport since 2018. It has also recently installed critical Instrumental Runway Visual Range (IRVR) systems (meteorological equipment for airport runway operations) at Inverness and Kirkwall airports, and it collaborates closely with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL), providing tailored services and solutions to the Scottish Airports operator.

Skyports Drone Services has a wealth of experience flying BVLOS drones in Scotland. Previously, the company conducted numerous test flights and projects in the Argyll and Bute region, and it is currently working on a project in the east of the country with Angus Council and the NHS.

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