Drone operators folded into national aviation management system of Switzerland

Safety is an integral part of burgeoning drone economies, and some countries are moving forward with integration.

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The Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) announced that it is has worked with private industry to deploy a flight information management system for drones. Called "FIMS," the system is an aviation data exchange hub that connects the air traffic management system to drone service providers to support safe and compliant drone operations in low-altitude airspace.

The partner companies include Skyguide, a Swiss air navigation service provider, and AirMap, an airspace intelligence platform for drones.

Integrating drone service providers into national air traffic management systems is considered a crucial step toward enabling drone economies to take flight. One of the pressing concerns among regulators is that drone operations could interfere with manned aircraft. 

Operations like these are known as U-space systems. In early 2018, Skyguide and AirMap announced the partnership to develop the first nationwide U-space system in Europe.

"The Swiss U-space FIMS is a critical building block toward full UTM implementation in Switzerland," said Klaus Meier, Skyguide Chief Technology Officer. "Following the creation of SUSI, the Swiss U-space Implementation framework designed by FOCA to build an open UTM ecosystem in Switzerland, we are delighted to announce the availability of the FIMS open interfaces to connect skyguide with multiple UAS Service Providers."

Proponents of U-space integrations say they complement traditional air traffic management systems by facilitating information exchange and interactions between airspace authorities and drone operators. FIMS is a cloud-based information exchange that distributes airspace information and real-time traffic from to drone operators through a network of drone service providers. 

"Switzerland's FIMS enables multiple USPs to connect to safety-critical airspace information using open and interoperable interfaces to deliver nationwide U-space services to UAS operators," said Ben Marcus, AirMap co-founder and chairman. "With this new milestone, Switzerland continues to lead the world in rolling out innovative UTM services that foster an open drone economy."

In the U.S., AirMap has already teamed up with Raytheon to develop solutions to provide a complete, real-time view of manned and unmanned flights in U.S. airspace, helping allay rising fears that increasing drone traffic is putting the national air transportation network at grave risk. There have already been a handful of verified aircraft collisions with drones, and several more near-misses, raising awareness of the growing problem.