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Geographic Zones For Drones, Geo-awareness, And Their Importance In Aviation Safety

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Geographic zones are designated areas for the operation of drones, with the aim of ensuring the safety and efficiency of these unmanned aircraft. In this article, we will explore the key points related to geographic zones, including their designation, altitude, time and distance restrictions, the common digital format, information publication, and the importance of having a geo-awareness system in certified drones.

Designation And Data Quality Requirements

Geographic zones for drones are defined by countries and established by various entities such as public institutions, local authorities, and military organizations. These areas identify places where restrictions or prohibitions on drone operations are applied, ensuring the safety of operations and avoiding interference with manned air traffic.

By establishing these zones, countries may require specific data quality requirements to ensure that the information used is accurate and suitable for its purpose.

Restrictions In Geographic Zones

When flying a drone, it is possible to encounter areas where restrictions on altitude, time, distance, among others, are applied. These restrictions may vary, and some zones may have total flight prohibitions, such as low-altitude flight areas intended for military use.

It is also possible that partial restrictions are applied in some areas, such as:

  • Limitations on the maximum allowed altitude, set below the 120-meter limit allowed in the open category according to regulations.

  • Time restrictions, allowing drone flight only during certain moments of the day due to nearby events, such as concerts or sports matches.

  • Reduction of the horizontal distance between the pilot and the drone.

Common Digital Format And Information Publication

To facilitate the management and interoperability of geographic zones for drones, a common digital format supported by EUROCONTROL is used and described in the EUROCAE ED-269 standard. This format ensures consistency in the presentation and exchange of data on geographic zones. Additionally, EUROCONTROL provides additional guidelines through its website to address potential technical challenges identified during the initial implementation.

Countries are obligated to publish information about drone geographic zones in aeronautical information products and services, such as the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). This allows pilots and airspace operators to have access to updated information about these zones, ensuring the safety of operations.

Obligation Of Certified Drones And Geo-awareness

Certified drones have the obligation to ensure geo-awareness, that is, awareness of their geographical environment and restricted operation zones.

These drones are equipped with a built-in geo-awareness system that allows them to detect possible breaches of geographic zone limitations and alert the remote pilot. This system relies on geospatial information provided and regularly updated by countries. It is the responsibility of certified drone operators to keep the geo-awareness system of their drones up to date by downloading and updating information about geographic zones within their systems.

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