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Africa Wings Journal: Drone technology – Safe coexistence of airspace users is key

In the May – July 2016 issue of Africa Wings, the African Airlines Association’s Panafrican Journal on air transport, an article about “Drone Technology” by Associate Partner Bruno Boucher, responsible for Central, West and North Africa, has been published. It discusses Africa’s potential in becoming a pioneer in developing regulation standards for synchronized operations. Read the full article below:

A vast number of professional drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), as they are officially termed, and an even greater number of private ones will be operated in the world airspace in the coming years. Drones are increasingly used for commercial reasons and becoming more popular for private purposes as “toy” versions. Many companies worldwide already apply UAV technology in the fields of agriculture, logistics, the media and advertising. 

There is a lot of pressure applied to civil aviation authorities not only from potential users of UAVs but manufacturers that are promoting their products and trying to quickly gain a share of this fast growing market to start operating their systems anywhere they can fly. 

Most countries and international organizations have not yet defined proper regulations for the operation of these type of flying devices in the airspace, close to the ground but also near and sometimes over airports and protected areas. 

Whilst many efforts are underway from international regulation authorities and a few countries outside of Africa that should lead to some sort of regulations in the coming years, there is an immediate need to establish legal guidelines for the import and operation of UAVs in all African countries. Lufthansa Consulting is already helping customers, corporations as well as authorities to understand the role of UAVs and how they can be integrated not only into their business or the countries’ economical activities but also in harmony with other airspace users. Safety, professionalism and transparency are the main values to be promoted. Africa has the opportunity to play an important role in what could become a standard for other areas of the world by acting quickly and professionally.

The introduction of this technology is irreversible and Africa’s economy will definitely benefit from it. Strategical sectors such as agriculture, energy and transportation can potentially profit from the usage of UAVs to either replace existing methods or create new value at a fraction of the current costs. The responsibility of the main users of the airspace is to ensure secure and smooth coexistence of all operations in this valuable resource they share. 

Now is the time to act responsibly in the interest of all stakeholders!

Source: Africa Wings, AFRAA’s Panafrican Journal on air transport, No. 33: May – July 2016