Switzerland Swiss drone FAA partnership

FAA partners with Switzerland to tackle one big drone issue

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the Swiss equivalent of the FAA, the Switzerland Federal Office of Civil Aviation, this month announced a partnership. The two are set to team up to build domestic and international safety standards for drones.

While there could be tons of potential safety standards to address when it comes to drones, the big focus is around handling the oversight and regulations of integration drones into the national airspace. The partnership will be mainly handled by the FAA’s UAS Integration Office on the U.S. side of things, and FOCA’s Innovation and Digitalization Unit on the Swiss side. A more fleshed out agenda is expected to be released in the next 60 days.

“UAS activities are now accepted worldwide as a vital sector of aviation,” said Jay Merkle, executive director of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office, in a prepared statement. “This U.S./Swiss agreement continues the move forward of the safe, efficient, and internationally harmonized integration of these vehicles into the world’s airspace.”

Switzerland has long been one of the leaders in the drone industry, including playing host to ASTM tests around electronic drone license plates. ASTM is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary technical standards that companies and makers largely agree to adhere to for a wide range of materials. Back in 2017, Switzerland granted its first ‘anytime’ BVLOS authorization to mapping drone company senseFly. The country is also working on extensive trials through Skyguide, the Swiss air navigation service provider in partnership with AirMap.

As part of the trial phase, select drone operators in Switzerland (including drone delivery company Matternet) can request automated and manual flight authorization to fly in airspaces in the cantons of Lugano and Geneva through the skyguide U-space mobile application.

News of the FAA partnership with the Switzerland FOCA was announced during the 2020 FAA UAS Symposium remotely co-hosted with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

The annual symposium was held virtually this year as a series of webinars. The 2020 FAA UAS Symposium made waves especially this year for charging $375 for an entire conference pass, a fee that many industry participants say went too far given that many conference benefits including in-person networking.

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