Integrating Search & Rescue drones in airspace

Learn how Croatian emergency services are using drones for good.

In the past years, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs or drones) have become a valuable resource for emergency services. Despite their great potential to disrupt emergency response, the potential of drones risks to be hindered due to the limitations of airspace regulations.

With plenty of other “traditional airspace users” (airliners, general aviation, parachutes, military aircraft and activities, etc.) already operating, how can we ensure drones can have a fast and safe access during high priority operations, such as Search and Rescue?

In our latest document, we look into the Croatian emergency services and their work developing new procedures in airspace management in cooperation with Croatia Control Ltd. (CCL – a Croatian state-owned limited liability company that operates in the Republic of Croatia), along with the unmanned management tool that is operationally used for internal purposes – the “AMC Portal.”

The web-based “AMC Portal” is a central briefing point for all airspace users (traditional and drone operators), gathering and distributing information about planned and actual activities in real time (AUP/UUP, relevant NOTAMs), textually and graphically, as shown on different layers of maps (satellite, street view, VFR, IFR), and including information on rules and regulations.

This integration allows today for a cooperation between the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (CMRS), the Commander of Air Group (CAG) who is in constant touch with the Croatian Air Traffic Control and all other relevant parties (Ministry of Defense, Air Force, Coast Guard).

Benefitting from the use of drones for six years, the CMRS soon recognised the importance of internal regulation – and in 2018, established a UAV department and proposed new internal training and licensing programme. The programme was written and sent for authorisation to regulatory authorities and was successfully finished by 49 now licensed pilots.

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