To facilitate safety and compliance, starting from 1 August 2023, drone operators in the UK can access controlled airspace by easily submitting flight plans and approval requests to UK facilities within Flight Restriction Zones (FRZs). Altitude Angel's Drone Assist app and DroneSafetyMap.com allow seamless connectivity to digitally advanced airports through the GuardianUTM Approval Services platform.
Airports integrated with this platform can promptly approve or decline flight requests through an online system, ensuring swift responses for operators. For airports still using analogue processes, Altitude Angel steps in to notify facilities of a submitted flight plan with operator details, flight summary and risk report, and the requirement for the authority to respond to the approval request, complying with Article 94A. These measures streamline coordination and approval.
The 'UTM Ready' programme marks a significant advancement towards a safe and future-ready airspace, particularly as commercial drone usage increases. Three distinct tiers of 'UTM Readiness' are available within Altitude Angel platforms, offering drone operators the necessary information to submit flight plans for approval. Additional information on these tiers can be found below.
“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.
This platform will help make airspace more accessible for innovative aircraft, keeping track of those who want to fly in airport airspace and is a key step towards achieving the ambitious outcomes that we are setting through the Future of Flight Industry Group."
Aviation Minister, Baroness Vere (2023).
The CAA's introduction of new regulations in 2019 was a necessary step towards the safe integration of UAVs into controlled airspace. However, there is a need for updated, standardised and digital processes to facilitate effective communication between airports and drone operators, especially with the scaling of the commercial drone industry.
Full digital approvals available.
These facilities have deployed compatible UTM services that enable Altitude Angel (or other apps) to submit and receive full digital flight authorisations. Policies and procedures are available and machine-readable, and the facility is modernising to welcome drone flights. Where fees are payable, the facility offers electronic payment via credit or debit card.
The experience securing approval to operate at this facility will be seamless, if not entirely automated. Facilities that are UTM Ready can also set up workflows to automatically approve or reject according to specific criteria (to speed up processing times), and may offer different user-selectable service tiers in order to guarantee turnaround times more quickly during busy periods (for example, if there is an urgent job needing completion).
These facilities welcome properly authorised drone traffic and may have also connected Altitude Angel’s CounterUAS Intelligence services to enable approval information to be digitally fused with UAS detection information from on-facility sensors, giving greater confidence to everyone involved that everyone is exactly where they should be.
No digital approvals, but supports electronic notification.
These facilities have published an email address that can be used to interact with them, but no specific UTM services are available. Approval policies are non-standard and vary facility-to-facility. Fees may be payable and vary site-by-site and payment methods vary.
As a UTM, Altitude Angel can begin the approval process on behalf of a drone operator by sending the facility basic information about the intended operation and then connecting both parties (via email) to conclude the approval. However, records of these approval requests are not available within the Altitude Angel account because these facilities provide no mechanism to do so (the only record will be the email sent to both facility and operator).
Altitude Angel will send every facility with a 'Basic' UTM Readiness level the same format of information in a PDF, with basic information about the operator, planned flight times and location(s).
If you operate a 'Basic' Level 2 facility and want to learn more about receiving and sending Full Digital Approvals, click here to learn about becoming UTM Ready.
No digital approvals.
These facilities are not contactable – or have not published – any digital means of communication for the purposes of securing permission to operate a drone. Instead, they typically only offer slow, or analogue means: such as a fax, or a telephone call. These facilities are not equipped to deal with modern drone traffic. Approval policies tend to be non-standard and vary facility-to-facility. Fees may be payable but nothing is known about these.
As a UTM, Altitude Angel cannot interact with these facilities digitally.