Airways is calling for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or drone, users to take part in the trial of New Zealand’s first UAV traffic management (UTM) platform. Airways has partnered with global airspace management provider AirMap to deliver the platform that provides flight planning and management tools for commercial and recreational UAV pilots.
The three-month trial is taking place in the Canterbury and Queenstown regions. With AirMap’s free iOS and Android apps, drone users will be able to seek necessary airspace and public landowner approvals to fly, file flight plans, and access real–time information about other aircraft in the area, allowing them to stay safely separated.
Drone flights are increasing exponentially in New Zealand, with the number of flights recorded by Airways increasing from 30 to 600 per week over the past three years. These flights are supporting essential sectors including emergency services and inspections and monitoring in the power and utility industries.
Airways Chief Executive Officer Graeme Sumner says, “The trial is an important step in investigating how Airways could develop a UTM system that safely integrates drones into New Zealand’s wider air traffic control network. There is potential for New Zealand to become a test-bed for the UAV industry through the implementation of a system that supports growth and development in a safe manner.”
“We’re very excited to help New Zealand’s UAV pilots more easily and safely access the airspace,” said Ben Marcus, AirMap CEO. “With the world watching, Airways and AirMap are demonstrating how UTM technologies can safely open the skies to high-scale drone operations, today.”
Christchurch and Queenstown have been selected for the trial because of the combination of rural and urban landscapes the regions provide. Airways has collaborated with local airports and authorities including councils and emergency services on the trial. This means AirMap users will be able to get automated approval to fly in public areas, including parks and reserves. Authorities can also share real-time updates about the location of events, community gatherings, emergencies and other areas to avoid.
Airways has supported the UAV industry since the outset, initially with airshare.co.nz. The online site launched in 2014 to provides drone users with essential safety information and the ability to log flights. Airways will be seeking feedback from users throughout the trial.