The Airports Council International (ACI) recently published a position paper on Drone Technology giving an insight on their vision of the future. In this documents they acknowledge the important role that drones can play for the development of airport activities, the impact that drones traffic will have on airports, as well as the risks in termes of security and disruption of airport services.
The ACI asks for a common european effort, with a « no airport left behind » approach, and calls for cooperation with airlines, ANSPs and authorities, on topics including: the definition of restricted zones (geofencing), the detection and neutralisation of drones, and the definition of roles and responsibilities of the various actors. In this regard it strongly supports the U-Space initiative led by the SESAR-JU.
In terms of actions, the ACI World set up a « Drones Working Group » aimed at writing a Handbook and global guidelines for airports. At the same time, ACI Europe asks the EASA to write and publish a « European Safety Rulebook » to disseminate good practice and safety culture to the public. The ACI also acknowledge that a medium to long term integration will require to update relevant ICAO documents.
The envisioned roadmap for drones integration is to integrate the less risky operations as fast as possible, then define standard scenarios to enable operations in the EASA framework and finally gather from the aviation industry best practices and operational concepts.
In all the previous aspects, the ACI insists on the fact that any development must be « future proofed », it is to say that it should be able to evolve as the technologies evolve.