Innovating and collaborating for the skies of tomorrow

The future will be interconnected. In fact, the more complex our world becomes, the greater the need for a number of interactions. Air traffic control provides a perfect example of this situation. To prepare for this, skeyes is implementing a number of planned innovations, to develop its services, most notably digital control towers, and to respond to new requirements, such as those relating to drones, with the ultimate aim of guaranteeing maximum safety for air traffic. skeyes is also building these multi-level interconnections by developing collaborations that are key to the effective management of the airspace of the future.


Drones

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After the “general public” version of droneguide in 2018, on 13 September 2019 skeyes launched an extended version of its app, also aimed at professional drone pilots.

The droneguide app already enabled recreational drone pilots to quickly and easily see where and under what conditions they could fly in Belgium, as well as get an overview of other drones in flight in their area.

droneguide now allows professional drone pilots to plan and submit flight notifications as well as request any necessary derogations from the authorities in just a few clicks. It is a world first in this sector.

Via the online portal, Class 1 operators (A and B) can register, submit flight notifications and obtain the necessary data from FPS Mobility and Transport. Pilots can plan their operations and obtain validation via the app and also submit flight notifications to the authorities. Moreover, Class 2 operators can plan their flights via the tool.

5,916
drone operations were processed by the droneguide platforms

The droneguide app is free and available for Android and iOS.

Further information about the droneguide application and its features can be found at https://www.skeyes.be/en/services/droneguidebe/

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MEDRONA

skeyes is an active partner of MEDRONA. This initiative is aimed at establishing a reliable, effective, environmentally-friendly drone-based system for transporting medical packages between hospitals and their laboratories and pharmacies.

MEDRONA was selected within the context of Smart Mobility Belgium. The project’s partners are Helicus, skeyes, SABCA, Unifly, La Baloise, NSX as well as several hospitals in Antwerp and Hasselt.

DronePort

DronePort is a campus earmarked for technology companies active in both manned and unmanned aviation. Officially opened in late 2018 in Sint-Truiden, the campus is home to start-ups, schools of higher education, universities and centres of expertise that conduct joint research projects, exchange ideas and adopt initiatives to stimulate the drone sector in Belgium. As a leading player in the area, skeyes is present on the DronePort campus, supports the initiative and participates in different activities on the site.

SkeyDrone

Through its expertise, skeyes is contributing to the development of UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management). With this in mind, in early 2020 it created a subsidiary entirely dedicated to UTM, SkeyDrone.

Digital control towers

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A veritable technological marvel, digital control towers are revolutionising the world of air traffic control. Thanks to new technologies and ultra-modern cameras, air traffic controllers will be able to remotely manage aircraft movements at and on approach to airports.

Digital control towers allow air navigation services to be offered at multiple airports from a single control centre while increasing air safety through augmented reality.

Digital control towers are the future of air traffic management at airports and are being rolled out across Europe. After various studies and field visits in recent years, skeyes launched in 2019 an ambitious strategic programme aimed at equipping the six Belgian airports with digital control towers to gradually replace the traditional towers.

ANA Lux CDO

After close collaboration between skeyes and Luxembourg air traffic controller ANA Lux to apply Continuous Descent Operations (CDO) or green landings at Luxembourg Airport, a new milestone was reached in 2019 with the signing of a new agreement. This concerns the transmission of statistical data to ANA Lux relating to CDO. These additional data, by enhancing monitoring, are supporting the optimisation of green descents by identifying future improvements.

Training at full throttle

Entry Point North Belgium (EPNB), the new training academy located on the skeyes site, has recorded excellent results after only one year in operation.

>600
Staff members received training at EPNB in 1 year.

In September 2018, skeyes created a joint venture with Entry Point North, one of the largest academies for air navigation services in the world.

This joint venture enables skeyes to continue to provide high-quality training on its own site to its staff, to recruit at full capacity and to ensure the continuity of its air navigation services.

In just one year, more than 600 air traffic controllers, engineers, technicians and other skeyes staff completed more than 70 training courses at the academy.

The academy is equipped with new state-of-the-art simulators: 50 radar/pilot stations, five 180° simulators and one 360° 3D control tower simulator.

Colocation of civil and military personnel in the CANAC 2 control centre

An important milestone in civil-military cooperation was reached on 2 December 2019 when skeyes welcomed military air traffic controllers to CANAC 2. This colocation is already facilitating greater efficiency in the management of Belgian airspace. It is making it much easier to apply the principle of Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA). The allocation of available airspace as required permits optimal use with, among other things, direct routes and flight levels that are no longer constrained by fixed military zones that have to be circumvented.

This is an important step in the efficiency of air traffic management, of which civil-military cooperation is one of the cornerstones. Collaboration between Belgian Defence and skeyes had already been enhanced since 2013, with the launch of a series of joint initiatives: participation by Defence in the skeyes strategic committee, joint operation of a new radar unit in Florennes, signing of a framework agreement for the provision of a common aeronautical information service, establishment of a common airspace management unit, etc.

Colocation complements these close cooperation efforts at an operational level. Belgian Defence and skeyes will continue to intensify their collaboration in the coming years. One of the next steps will be to integrate the civil and military air traffic management system in collaboration with EUROCONTROL MUAC. To this end, skeyes, Belgian Defence and EUROCONTROL have launched a joint project for the use of an integrated air traffic management system (SAS3) by 2024.

NewPens

Every day, dozens of air traffic control organisations in Europe work together to manage traffic in European airspace. A fast, reliable and secure voice and data communication network plays an important role in this regard.

This is the aim of the pan-European telecommunications project NewPens (New Pan European Network Service), which brings together 41 ANSPs (Air Navigation Service Providers) from 47 countries operating on some one hundred different sites.

In early July 2019, following improvements to its voice communication and data transmission infrastructure, skeyes became the first air navigation service provider to exchange data with European network manager EUROCONTROL via the highly efficient, secure and stable NewPens network to transmit critical operational data.

A firm strategy for a sustainable business

skeyes fully committed to the path of Corporate Social Responsibility in 2019. Beyond its mission, skeyes aims to be among the best air navigation service providers in terms of sustainable development by 2025.

skeyes is committed to providing its customers with safe, continuous and efficient air navigation services, while taking the necessary steps to:

  1. incorporate sustainability into its day-to-day activities
  2. increase employee engagement
  3. create a sharing of values with its stakeholders and with the community as a whole.

skeyes has carried out a measurement of its carbon footprint. As the years go by, this indicator will track the progress made in various areas towards becoming a sustainable business. Ultimately, the objective is to have a neutral carbon footprint, a target duly included in the proposal for the next management contract sent to the minister in charge of skeyes.