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ICAO issues second request for information for low-altitude drone traffic management

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has begun consultative work needed to establish low-altitude traffic management guidance for domestic unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones.

ICAO, a specialised agency of the United Nations, sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, capacity and environmental protection. As drone deliveries, inspection and autonomous flying taxis reach reality, ICAO recognises that an agreed global approach will greatly assist businesses and others in launching their UAS services with suitable levels of investment confidence and operational safety.

ICAO is now convening its second DRONE ENABLE event for 13-14 September in Chengdu, China. The focus of the event will be on exploring new solutions with experts and innovators from industry, academia and other areas to help globally coordinate the development of UAS activities, and safely integrate UAS traffic management systems and existing conventional air traffic management systems. 

In preparation for the Chengdu event, ICAO has also issued a second request for information (RFI) to expand on the guidance material which was initiated after its first DRONE ENABLE in 2017, ICAO's UAS Industry Symposium in Montréal, Canada.

Interested parties can contribute to the 2018 ICAO RFI via the UN aviation agency’s Unmanned Aviation website at www.icao.int/safety/ua

ICAO’s Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, said, “Many new proposals and innovations are emerging on a daily basis regarding unmanned aircraft and their operations at low altitudes. ICAO is the natural agency to bring together the best and brightest from government and industry to define how these aircraft can be safely integrated into modern airspace, and in a way that optimises their benefits globally for the wide range of public and private sector operators.” 

“Multiple States and regional groups have activities underway to establish a UAS airspace management tool for lower altitudes, and ICAO’s work through this RFI process will help to facilitate harmonised solutions which are safe, secure, sustainable, and most importantly globally aligned,” noted ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu. 

“Our over-riding goal at ICAO is to better define the issues involved, whether technical, operational or legal, and also to ensure safety continues to remain our highest priority.”

Background

In 2015, ICAO established the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Advisory Group (UAS-AG) to support the Secretariat in developing guidance material and expedite the development of provisions to be used by States to regulate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), with its industry and international partners, as well as the Member States, has been instrumental in providing support to the global aviation safety collaboration.

In October 2016, during ICAO’s 39th Assembly, world governments requested that ICAO develop a global baseline of provisions and guidance material for the harmonisation of regulations on UAS that remain outside of the international instrument flight rules (IFR) framework. This request was based on three factors: the need to maintain safety for manned aircraft; the desire for harmonisation of domestic UAS regulations; and the need for assurance from the leading global aviation standards-making body that the best options for UAS operations were being considered and recommended.  

In order to accomplish this, the UAS‑AG began a second, larger phase of work (Phase II). The UAS-AG continues to serve as a technical body, working under the management of the ICAO Secretariat. It reviewed and assessed submissions from States, industry and academia to ICAO's Requests for Information (RFIs). Based upon the assessments, further submissions were invited for the first DRONE ENABLE and now for the second Symposium. 

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