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Tue, Aug 01, 2023

Altitude Angel Platform Redefines U.K. Airspace Utilization

Keeping Up With the Neighbors

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Reading, U.K., Altitude Angel is a developer of Unified Traffic Management (UTM) software tasked with ensuring the UTM readiness of the entirety of the U.K.’s civil and military airports.

Whilst regulatory advancements have occasioned the alacritous and comprehensive development of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) networks in Japan, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Italy, the U.K. has failed, to date, to deploy a standard, nationwide, UAS digital approval service across its airport infrastructure.

However, by dint of Altitude Angel’s Drone Assist app and DroneSafetyMap.com—both of which are connected to the company’s Approval Services platform—the U.K. will soon have opportunity to take a leadership role in the integration of UAS into extant airspace constructs currently the sole province of manned aircraft.

U.K. Aviation Minister Baroness Vere stated: “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.”

Speaking to the subject of Altitude Angel’s software product, the Baroness added: “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."

U.K. airports currently supported by Approval Services will have the option of digitally approving (or declining) flight requests, in some cases providing UAS operators near-instantaneous replies.

Conversely, flight requests directed to U.K. airports persisting in the use of analog technology—and not, therefore, connected to the digital platform—will be facilitated by Altitude Angel on behalf of the UAS operator. Specifically, Altitude Angel will provide the relevant airport a detailed email summary of the planned UAS operation, thereby ensuring compliance with Article 94A of the U.K.'s Air Navigation Order 2016. Crucially, the service provides UAS operators a seamless experience at all U.K. airports.

Altitude Angel founder and CEO Richard Parker set forth: “This is a major step for the UK as we put in place the foundations on which our [the UK’s] future transport and delivery infrastructure will be built. By rolling out our platform to all airports, we’re saying to the world the U.K. is ready and open to UAS and crewed aircraft, sharing the same skies, safely and securely. By bringing the digitization of drone approvals in managed airspace, we’ve cleared the first hurdle on the path to automated drone operations.”

Altitude Angel’s UTM Ready program classifies airports in one of three categories respectively predicated upon the facility’s ability to approve drone operations digitally. What’s more, Altitude Angel’s product defines a definitive pathway for the advancement of airports from one category to the next.

  • A UTM Ready airport will have full digital approvals available. Such facilities have deployed compatible UTM services that enable Altitude Angel (or any third-party connected thereto) to submit and receive full digital flight authorizations. If utilizing Altitude Angel’s Guardian UTM services, subject airports can enable automation or deep integration with existing airport systems, including Counter-UAS.
  • Those classified as Basic will have no digital approvals, but support electronic notification, typically via email.
  • Legacy airports have no published electronic means of obtaining digital approvals. Rather, such facilities will typically only offer slow, or analogue means of seeking approval—such as via fax, or telephone.

In May, 2023, Altitude Angel released several significant upgrades to its Drone Assist product, which included a feature facilitating direct connection to Altitude Angel’s UTM platform and offering ‘one-tap flight authorizations’ at connected airports and facilities worldwide. Currently looked upon as the flight planning app for professional and recreational drone pilots alike, Drone Assist is the digital foundation upon which the UK may well build a £40-billion drone economy.

FMI: www.altitudeangel.com

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