Good news for drone operators active in the Specific category (including Dronewatch). It has actually recently been permitted to carry out drone operations in the inner rings of civil CTRs, such as those of Schiphol and Rotterdam The Hague Airport. Operators in concern need to have consisted of the appropriate treatments in their handbook and must submit a mission strategy through GoDrone. An ATC clearance, acquired by means of two-sided radio contact with the control tower, also stays mandatory.

Controlled airspace

Those who see the drone map of the Netherlands will see red marked locations around the bigger airports that our country counts. This concerns controlled airspace (Control Zone or CTR), which implies that all flights in such a location– both manned and unmanned– should be lined up with the pertinent air traffic control. This is just booked for operators active in the Specific classification: operators in the Open classification are not permitted to fly in any CTR.

Around civil airports (Schiphol, Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Groningen Airport Eelde, Maastricht Aachen Airport, and Lelystad Airport) there was for a very long time an extra division, in the so-called inner ring and outer ring. Expert operators with the needed additional exemption for drone flights in CTRs were permitted to run only in the outer rings till just recently. This still triggered a significant brake on operations in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, for instance, since large parts of these cities remain in the inner ring of the pertinent CTRs.

Inner ring opened

Thanks to a recent change in law, the restriction on drone flights in the inner rings of CTRs has been dropped. Or rather, the definition of inner ring is a distant memory. This indicates that operators in the Specific classification can basically perform flights throughout the CTR, including in what was formerly called the inner ring.

There are conditions for flying into (inner rings of )CTRs, reports service expert Philip Beekman of LVNL:”Operators who have an operating license can fly throughout the CTR. Obviously, the starting point is that they include their mitigating procedures in the SORA. If it’s right, ILT will align that with us. In addition, the variety of drones permitted to fly at the same time in the CTR has been set, due to the workload for the traffic controller.”

Contact with air traffic control

Likewise stays the responsibility to preserve radio contact with the control tower during the drone operation. Beekman: “Due to the Dutch interpretation of the European rules, a drone flight stays a VFR flight. Via GoDrone, a mission plan need to be sent prior to the flight for approval. An ATC clearance and two-sided radio contact is likewise still mandatory during the flight. You can discover the procedure on”

In the future, interaction between drone pilot and air traffic control service ought to be performed via GoDrone. An initial step to this was taken last year by being able to send an objective plan via GoDrone.