Don't fly drones close to airports, authority urges public

Take note – story published 1 year and 9 months ago

Between July 1 and August 1, 602 drone flights were detected in the Rīga airport's air traffic control area, of which 397 were carried out too close to the airport area or above the maximum permitted flight height, the Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) said August 25.

In the traffic information area of Liepāja airport, 173 of the 182 registered flights breached the prescribed limits.

CAA, with the support of the Cohesion Fund, has set up drone detection facilities aimed at improving air safety and reducing unauthorized drone flights in the vicinity of airports, which may lead to disruption of commercial and general aviation aircraft flights. The devices already provide airspace surveillance around Rīga and Liepāja airports.

Reception facilities shall determine the location, flight height and speed of the drone. The data is used for both strategic-level decision-making and operational activities at the tactical level.

CAA Director Māris Gorodcovs said that uncoordinated and unauthorized unmanned aircraft flights could pose a serious threat to aviation trffic, as well as damage to third parties or its property. 

The CAA reminded the public that for unmanned aircraft, the maximum permitted flight height within the open category is 120 meters, measured from the surface of the ground or water below, rather than the take-off site. There are tougher restrictions in certain places. For example, flights are allowed up to 50 meters in the air traffic control area of Rīga and Liepāja airports. There are also distance restrictions in place, which make flights with drones prohibited from being carried out closer to five kilometers from the airport area. Flights that are scheduled to be carried out further or above the specified limits need to be authorized.

Around 5700 drone pilots are currently registered in Latvia, of which 3100 have obtained a qualification document. The number of registered operators has also increased to 3068, which is 63% more than in July last year.

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