Swiss air navigation service provider Skyguide and US-based airspace drone management platform AirMap have entered a partnership to develop Europe’s first national drone traffic management system.

The system will be the first national deployment of U-space, Europe’s vision for the digital infrastructure that is set to support safe and secure access for multiple drones in European skies.

AirMap CEO Ben Marcus said: “With Swiss U-space, Switzerland aims to safely open the skies for drone commerce. We’re proud to work with Skyguide to bring AirMap UTM to Switzerland and make it possible for more pilots, more drones, and more missions to take flight in Europe.”

Similar to the US Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) initiative, U-space is a joint effort that provides situational awareness, data exchange, and digital communication for the European drone ecosystem.

“The establishment of a U-space is the key to improve drone operations’ safety and to satisfy the security and privacy concerns of our citizens.”

Switzerland Federal Office of Civil Aviation director-general Christian Hegner said: “The establishment of a U-space is the key to improve drone operations’ safety and to satisfy the security and privacy concerns of our citizens.

“In order to achieve these objectives, a seamless cooperation between all the partners involved is crucial.”

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During a testing phase scheduled to start in June this year, the AirMap UTM platform will be integrated with Skyguide’s infrastructure and automated flight authorisation will be introduced in a single airspace environment.

Additionally, both the companies will produce a roadmap for Swiss U-space that will pave the way for the deployment of a fully operational drone traffic management system in 2019 and beyond.

The new platform will make sure that all drone categories and mission types can safely take flight in Switzerland’s airspace.

Swiss U-space will feature blockchain-based registration for users and drones, connectivity and communication between drone pilots and airspace administrators, and other services to enable simultaneous flights in shared airspace.