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Mon 21 Nov 2016 02:44 PM

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UAE, Nokia sign world first deal to control operation of drones

UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority inks agreement with tech giant; follows cases of illegal drones forcing Dubai airport closures

UAE, Nokia sign world first deal to control operation of drones

Nokia and the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) have entered into a collaboration to drive the development of a system to allow the operation of drones by both businesses and government agencies in a safe, secure and managed environment.

At the heart of the new ecosystem will be Nokia’s UAV Traffic Management (UTM) concept, which is being developed to manage drones in and around cities.

The Nokia UTM system will provide capabilities such as automated flight permissions, no-fly zone control and beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) that are critical for the safe operation of UAVs in densely populated urban areas.

The ecosystem will also serve as a testing ground for various applications of drone technology, which can be explored in a safe and controlled environment, according to a statement.

The increasing use of drones for commercial and leisure purposes globally has led to a rise in the number of near-misses with aircraft and infringements into no-fly zones, spurring calls for their use to be better regulated.

Operations at Dubai's main airport, the world's busiest for international passengers, were halted for an hour on Oct. 29, delaying 40 flights. It was the third time they had been temporarily stopped in four months because of drones.

Nokia said its UTM concept will be able to monitor airspace and flight paths, and share data between UAVs, operators and air traffic controllers and establish no-fly zones that can be continually refreshed with the latest data.

This agreement complements a recent Nokia initiative to establish and develop a UAV test facility at Twente Airport in the Netherlands.

Bernard Najm, head of the Middle East Market Unit at Nokia, said: “This collaboration with the GCAA, the first of its kind in the world, gives us a unique and extensive test bed where we can trial and refine our UAV Traffic Management system, and shape the future of UAV management overall. This is an exciting opportunity that builds on our strong relationship with the UAE to help facilitate its smart city journey.”

Ismaeil Mohammed Al Blooshi, assistant director general of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, added: "We, as a civil aviation regulator, are pleased to partner with Nokia for such an innovative initiative for the UAE aviation sector and to build a safe and secure drone ecosystem.

"Being the number 1 aviation industry in the world with regard to safety standards, the UAE has superb aviation infrastructure and is qualified to play a key role in innovative aviation projects such as this drone collaboration.”

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