The Swiss ATM solutions provider, SkySoft-ATM, is adding a new line to its current portfolio as it enters in the drones’ detection solutions market.

Since 2001, SkySoft-ATM, a subsidiary of Swiss air navigation service provider skyguide, has developed innovative air traffic management solutions with the objective of offering its customers high-performance tools to manage complex traffic at all flight segments.

UAVs are becoming a major component of the ATM environment and require specific solutions to be integrated into regular traffic. While sales figures on drones are forecast to achieve record heights for end-of-year 2015 (over one million are expected to be sold in the US alone), the US is getting organised to face potential new threats.

SkySoft-ATM is working in two directions to propose management and identification systems to control cooperative and non-cooperative UAVs.

Detecting non-cooperative drones – especially fast and small objects – is a major concern to airports with high-security sites or even VIPs. Most of these drones are operating at low levels and their surveillance is compromised by their size, terrain, and presence of building and vegetation.

It is essential to combine a detection and alerting mechanism, to provide airspace users and security forces with sufficient reaction time and accurate information to take measures and prevent accidents from occurring.

Drones: detect and display
To detect and display drones, Aveillant (a UK-based company) and SkySoft-ATM have integrated their respective solutions. Aveillant has released a 3D holographic radar that surveys the airspace constantly, never losing sight of its targets or their true positions (the first systems of which should be made available in the coming months).

This position is clearly displayed on Albatross, SkySoft-ATM’s open-source air situation display. Users of this human-machine interface (HMI) are immediately alerted when a drone is detected in the airspace the holographic radar is providing surveillance for.

Although non-cooperative UAV threats are becoming known to the public with high visibility in the media, integrating and segregating cooperative drones in regular air traffic management is a key feature for this huge economic emerging market worldwide. Should drones be used for transportation, security or support services, new solutions have to be implemented to identify and locate them as well as to communicate with the remote pilot.

For this, SkySoft-ATM is partnering with multiple technology solutions provider and authorities to create a centre of expertise in Switzerland.

An innovation combination
For Claude Levacher, SkySoft-ATM’s sales and marketing director, "the combination of detection and communications technology with SkySoft-ATM’s solutions makes perfect sense – not only for drone detection and management but also if one is looking from a broader perspective, as an ideal combination of new and cost-efficient technologies to provide surveillance and communication services in areas where those infrastructures are lacking."

Albatross Display Professional Edition is the cornerstone of this new light systems’ generation that provides multipurpose surveillance air situation displays, integrating data from fixed or mobile sensors and management units to operate globally. SkySoft-ATM will also propose 3D moving maps for remote pilots and flight-planning solutions.

The flight management console will provide support tools to prepare drone flights, and receive weather information and safety nets warnings. All communications between the drone pilot and the ANSP are recorded, as well as the respective moving maps and radar HMI.

The market for such solutions is vibrant and moving fast. With its flexibility and the performance and innovation of its systems, SkySoft-ATM and its partners are looking at offering easily configurable off-the-shelf solutions in the next few months to major operators and authorities that already have shown great interest.