2. Dezember 2018
Alexandra Linder, Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd.

Drone Regulation and Innovation: Switzerland Still at the Forefront

The Swiss drone ecosystem is flourishing. However, the growing numbers of drones increasingly raise security issues and heighten the potential for conflicts involving manned or unmanned aerial vehicles. Efforts towards the drafting of a bill regulating the use of airspace for drones has kicked off and the landmark project «U-Space» has received official support.
In order to safeguard and preserve Switzerland’s leading position for drone research and innovation, Swiss Parliament discussed a motion according to which the traffic in the sky shall be regulated more vigorously (Motion 18.3371). The motion aims at creating the legal framework for appropriate education and training of drone operators, registration and identification obligations and setting technical safety standards for all drones operated in Switzerland. On September 12, 2018 the motion was approved by both chambers of Parliament. The Federal Council supported the motion and is now in charge of drafting the bill. A key matter to be addressed in the bill is the creation of a national drone registry that nevertheless preserves a traditionally liberal approach and that keeps the burden for operators (in particular for model aircrafts) as light as possible. At the same time, the EU regulations set by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) shall be mirrored as closely as possible to ensure market access for the Swiss drone ecosystem.

On the technical level, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation supports Skyguide in its landmark project to create a digital and automated air traffic management system for drones. U-Space will become the first national airspace management system for drones in Europe with the ultimate goal of enabling and unlocking the massive potential of the drone ecosystem. The purpose of U-Space is to ensure the safe opening of the airspace for a large and ever increasing numbers of drone operations in low-level airspace, beyond visual line of sight and congested areas. U-Space entails a technical solution for drone registration and safe control of the drone during operation. The «Foundation Services» will be rolled-out first, consisting of e-registration, e-identification and geo-fencing. The reach of U-Space will not be limited to Switzerland; it will provide standards to build a digital unmanned traffic management infrastructure in Europe. U-Space is therefore recognized as a pioneer project for air traffic management technology not only in Switzerland but also in the EU.