Air traffic control Netherlands (LVNL) has made a new version of the GoDrone app and associated web application available in collaboration with developer Altitude Angel. ROC licensees can now apply for preliminary approval for drone emissions in CTR areas via the app. The final flight plan still has to be submitted in the ‘old’ way. The expansion is a first step towards more possibilities for drone flyers.

Operator Portal

GoDrone is a smartphone app and web application that can consult drone pilots to see where they can and can’t fly with a drone. The app was launched in April 2020. GoDrone immediately replaced the ‘official’ drone map of the Cadastre. In addition to static airspace information, the application also shows temporary airspace restrictions (so-called NOTAMs).

Initially, GoDrone could only be used to consult airspace information. But that is changing with the new version, which went online today. Drone pilots and operators can now register in the app, via the new Operator Portal. This portal gives access to a new online flight preparation system.

Preparing online missions

After creating an account, you get the opportunity to enter data about organization, pilots and drones. After that, you can create flight plans and request provisional permission for flights in controlled airspace. For the time being, only operators with a full ROC permit can make use of this option: recreational drone pilots and operators with a ROC-light waiver are for the time being out of the boat. However, LVNL also encourages them to schedule missions outside CTRs via the app, in order to be able to share this information in the long run with low-flying manned aircraft, such as trauma helicopters.

When entering a mission, one must specify which pilot and with which aircraft the intended flight will be made. This can be done both via the app and via the web application. Then one can indicate where, when and to how high the intended flight will take place. It can be a circular area, a line-shaped trajectory or a polygonal area. After the mission plan has been drawn up, it can be submitted to LVNL for approval. The lead time is basically 24 hours.

After receiving the provisional agreement, a flight plan must be submitted in the usual way shortly before the flight takes place via Homebriefing. In the end, this last step should also be via GoDrone, but it is not that far yet.

Only in the outer ring

For the time being, the system only provides access to the outer rings of CTRs. In parallel with the further development of GoDrone, work is underway to open the inner rings to drone operators who have the right papers, but the law must first be made. modified. Once this is the case, this feature will also be available in GoDrone’s new Operator Portal.

The new portal replaces the old system, where requests had to be submitted via a Word document to the LVNL operational helpdesk. That possibility still remains, but in principle, all new applications must now be submitted via the new portal. The submission of the final flight plan is therefore still done via Homebriefing.

RT obligation remains, no military CTRs yet

During a flight in a CTR, the drone operator must follow the common procedures. This means that the requirement to maintain two-sided radio contact with air traffic control during missions via a mobile RT installation remains. In the future, this communication should also be done via the GoDrone app.

Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to request approval for drone flights in military CTRs via the new system. It is LVNL’s ambition to also connect air traffic controllers at military airports to the system at a later stage.

First step to UTM

The new version of GoDrone is a first step towards Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM). The app is currently only usable for Dutch airspace and suitable for Dutch drone operators, but in the future GoDrone should also enable European coverage via U-space.

LVNL does not charge any costs for handling an flight plan, but does not rule out that this will change in the future.