Unleashing the Potential of Drones – First Steps to Integrated Airspace


Wednesday 20 March

3:30pm - 3:55pm


Wing Theatre


Session Overview

It is a true paradox that, for a technology that is so ubiquitous and well known, it is still only achieving a tiny fraction of its potential in terms of social, industrial and commercial value. Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) have been developing rapidly as a technology and operational concept for several years yet it is universally recognised that the exploitation of this technology has yet to achieve any significant scale. One of the fundamental enablers to this exploitation is the true integration of UAS within the existing airspace construct yet that integration requires a fundamental redesign of the airspace itself. In the UK, this has been recognised through the UK CAA’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy (AMS) noting that integration is one of the four strategic objectives.
This integration requires the safe and expeditious use of the airspace by all airspace users including UAS and this has not been possible to date within the UK context. Egis, in partnership with Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL), are establishing one of the first integrated airspace constructs where UAS and crewed aircraft including scheduled commercial aviation, general aviation and emergency services can operate together. Crucially and, for the first time in this type of airspace, the UAS can operate Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) to ensure that they can reach the true limits of their potential. This airspace construct will initially be established on a trial basis allowing HIAL, the UAS Operators and the CAA to gather valuable insights on the performance of the airborne and ground-based technology in addition to operational concepts. This invaluable operational experience will inform the basis of permanent airspace constructs and emerging regulation to advance the UK towards a future integrated airspace construct.
Egis will share the groundbreaking details of this airspace construct and associated operational concept, the application of novel UAS technology within this environment and lessons learnt from the experience of UAS operations from a licensed commercial aerodrome.
Richard Derrett-Smith will present this fascinating insight into this truly innovative application. Richard is an Associate Director within the Aviation business at Egis and has been leading future aviation projects for several years working with ANSPs, UAS Operators and the UK CAA to help to unlock the potential of this industry sector. Importantly for such a novel application in a safety-critical industry, Richard is currently the Safety Practice Lead for Egis Aviation UK and serves on the CANSO Safety Standing Committee Steering Group.

Session Speakers

Subject Areas

Wing Theatre
Global Safety and Security
Fostering a Thriving Aviation Community
Unleashing the Potential of Drones
Pathway to Advanced Air Mobility