Drone enthusiasts have been taking to the Swiss skies without the need for any authorization or following any regulations, up until now. So, tens of thousands of drones have been flying over Switzerland unregistered and undetected. Keeping in mind the chaos unregulated drone traffic can cause the authorities are now trying to curb or regulate uncontrolled drone use.
According to a report by NZZ am Sonntag a ministry spokesperson was cited saying that the Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation was formulating plans to make registry of drone operators and of their equipment compulsory by as soon as next year.
As of now the use of drones weighing less than 30 kilograms and which remain within line of sight have been allowed in Switzerland with restrictions applying only for high-risk areas such as airports or public gatherings.
However monitoring every single drone’s activity is not feasible and without a registration system, identifying and prosecuting reckless or inexperienced amateur pilots or rouge drone could prove quite challenging. The tiny machines are becoming increasingly affordable and can therefore easily cause damage or disrupt air traffic. Case in point the rouge drone incident In December due to which hundreds of British and international flights had to be diverted or cancelled when drones flew over London’s Gatwick Airport.
This rapid rise in private drone ownership has resulted in such a register being viewed with serious consideration in Switzerland has since 2017. The ministry spokesperson said that starting next year the new European Union regulations that require drones weighing more than 250 grams be registered would be implemented in the country. In fact Switzerland is ahead of EU regulators in testing a system that would allow the surveillance of the newly registered drones.
A working group that includes Geneva airport is working rapidly to find solutions after reports of drones having caused havoc and forced the closure of air space in other countries. The NZZ report wnet on to add that the Skyguide, a Geneva-based aerial navigation service provider, recently began testing the integration of drones into an aerial surveillance system in the cities of Geneva and Lugano.
Skyguide’s system, U-Space, comprises an app which allows drone pilots to submit their flight plan. The pilots then receive either an authorisation or a request to change their route. As per the report authorities are now working on the next step which is to devise a method for the police to gain access to such data.