Mission Aviation Fellowship

Cranfield airspace to be designated as drone trial area by UK CAA

Cranfield Airport has been selected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to participate in a temporary reserved area (TRA) regulatory sandbox to accommodate the operation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS)  and manned aircraft in unsegregated airspace.

The TRA designation will enable Cranfield Airport to host projects and trials that will help to integrate unmanned aircraft such as drones into shared airspace.

Airport operations director at Cranfield Rob Abbott said. “The airspace of the future will be increasingly complex. The TRA Sandbox is a clear indication of the CAA’s support for innovation and seeks to address the need to progress adoption of manned and unmanned aircraft in UK Airspace. I am pleased that Cranfield Airport with this TRA Sandbox will host more ground-breaking projects and trials to improve industry knowledge, processes and systems. This is vital to unlocking the potential of commercial drone use, and safely bringing UAS aircraft into shared airspace.”

The TRA Sandbox forms part of an airspace modernisation strategy which outlines the roadmap for the development and modernisation of UK airspace. Cranfield’s TRA is agnostic to technology, agnostic to market definitions and will facilitate an open access trials environment managed by Cranfield’s air traffic control (ATC) as the air navigation service provider (ANSP).

Increasing drone usage has the potential to contribute £45 billion to the UK economy by 2030, as drone usage is set to expand rapidly in the coming years.

The new TRA will allow Cranfield to host projects that demonstrate and validate technologies, airspace management procedures and flight operation procedures that support the safe, efficient and managed integration of drone operations and crewed aircraft. Live testing of operations and technologies will provide safety mitigation evidence and help to establish standards, enabling the CAA to develop regulatory guidance in this crucial area.

Cranfield Airport has experience and expertise within its Air Traffic Control of enabling UAS activity with navigation and other projects.

Image accredited to Cranfield media library


Author: FTN Editor

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