The expected surge in drone traffic over the next few years will require new approaches to air traffic management (ATM), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Secretary General Fang Liu has told an international conference.
In remarks to ICAO’s Global Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Symposium, held this week in Montreal, and the Drone Enable Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Industry Symposium, held in Chengdu, China, Liu stressed the need for development of responsive regulatory frameworks to aid the safe integration of drones into the global aviation network.
“Safety concerns such as collision with manned aircraft, the use of unapproved communications spectrum and even the expectations of privacy for the citizens living among these intended operations are all of great concern to governments today,” Liu said. “And there are further issues we must address such as the functional interoperability we can expect to achieve with traditional air traffic management mechanisms, airspace design and rules of the air for these new aircraft types, not to mention the location and types of operations relevant to UAS traffic management.”
In addition, she said, the aviation industry must recognize the safety risks presented by drones to “legacy aircraft and operations, including the populations on the ground.”
Liu said the expected expansion of the unmanned aircraft industry will lead to many aircraft “operating simultaneously within congested metropolitan areas and airspace.” She added, “This will be a tremendous challenge for regulatory officials and airspace planners, and one which will require completely new approaches in terms of the management of air traffic.