Drone operators in the Maasvlakte and Europoort areas of the Port of Rotterdam, designated as the U-Space Prototype area, will experience several changes soon. Firstly, the existing flight request forms for reserving flight areas will be phased out and replaced by a new web application developed by Airwayz. Additionally, there are significant updates regarding security and the role of Port Facility Security Officers (PFSOs).
1. Transition to WebApp for Flight Requests
During the current transition period, the flight request forms will be replaced by a WebApp. This application, created by Airwayz, the UTM partner in the Rotterdam U-space Airspace project, will become the standard from January 19, rendering the old forms obsolete. The WebApp, facilitating quick and easy interaction with the VLL Airspace Center, aims to streamline and enhance the application process.
Existing operators at the port have been notified of this change via email. New operators can register at the Airspace Center to access the WebApp. After verifying their Operational Authorization for the Specific Category, they will receive login credentials and a manual. There are no fees for using the WebApp, and each company is allowed up to five personal user accounts. However, full U-space services still require a direct connection to a UTM, achievable through an API/SDK or software like SkyOps, Aeret or DroneDeck.
The WebApp provides various functionalities, including creating, canceling and viewing existing flight requests. Users can also identify potential conflicts with other requests and receive suggestions for alternate times or coordinates for their flights. It’s essential to always check the status of flight requests before take-off because last-minute airspace restrictions may have changed this status.
2. Information on Safety Requirements
The Port of Rotterdam, classified as ‘vital infrastructure,’ falls under the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Code. European legislation mandates that ISPS-regulated areas and terminals in the port implement security measures, such as access controls. Each company has a designated PFSO responsible for ensuring compliance.
Drones can present various threats, such as corporate espionage or theft preparation. These potential threats impact the work of the PFSO. Therefore, drone operators must coordinate their procedures with the client and make sure that both security and the PFSO are well informed about their flights.
For flights over an ISPS site, drone operators must ensure the relevant PFSO is informed, typically via the client. A PFSO who detects an unknown drone will report it as a security incident through the port-wide MOBI app, which then alerts the Seaport Police.
Through close collaboration and clear communication, drone operators can significantly contribute to safe and efficient drone operations in the Port of Rotterdam.