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The Latvian Civil Aviation Agency started implementing the Cohesion Fund project “Establishing an unmanned aircraft management and monitoring system” (“the Project”) in May 2021, and its implementation is planing to finish by the end of 2023. 

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The number of unmanned aircraft (UA) users is increasing rapidly in recent years, and there is also an increased need for flights with increased risks –  Operating drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), close to aerodromes, above people, etc. 

There are nearly 400 flights per month in the Riga CTR area of the International Airport, an increase of more than 2 times compared to 2018. Unfortunately, the number of incidents is also increasing when pilots report dangerously close an UA during aircraft take-off or landing. If there were 4 cases in Riga in 2020, it was already 8 in 2021. 

In the framework of the development of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operation management and monitoring system, a survey was carried out and concluded that the acquisition of existing operating permits is difficult and cumbersome. Respondents indicate that there are different requirements, application forms to be filled in and the requested amounts of information to obtain a permit for the implementation of UAS operations. UAS operators indicated that due to many formalities as well as the different processing deadlines of applications, it is difficult for them to plan for the implementation of UAS activities after several days within a specified time period, as this may be affected by additional airspace restrictions as well as weather conditions. 

Accordingly, the task of the Project is to establish a UAS monitoring system that will ensure the availability and interoperability of services related to UAS management in the e-environnement, including the creation of a single digital solution for UAS operations. Key aspects that should be taken into account in the development of the new framework for the management and monitoring of UAS in relation to the establishment of geographical zones of UAS: 

  1. The UAS management and monitoring system should be based on a solution that ensures accurate registration of UA and their users in an electronic environment. This solution should be interoperable and compatible with other national information systems, thereby ensuring a successful and rapid exchange of information; 

  2. Most of the services and processes must be available in digital form with a maximum degree of automation using different equipment and systems. Systems architecture must incorporate algorithms for processing received data and data flow management; 

  3. Information, including regulatory requirements and examples of application, must be available in one place, in a aggregated manner, in accordance with the needs and role of the User (stakeholder representative), with the maximum respect for the “one-stop-shop principle”; 

  4. In the UAS management and monitoring system, the obligation for UAS operators and remote pilots to register UAS operations would increase the level of responsibility and allow law enforcement authorities to follow the current situation and to verify compliance with the regulatory requirements of the flights carried out. Notification of flights would allow the identification and warning of remote pilots when the geographical areas of UAS are formed upon notification of UAS operations, e.g. at the request of public services in response to external events; 

  5. The development of the UAS signal reception equipment network could provide law enforcement authorities in the field of UAS with information on the observed UA flights (identification, UA location coordinates, flight parameters, etc.) required to perform their functions; 

  6. There are concerns about the resources available to law enforcement authorities and the adequate implementation of functions in the UAS field, which could be addressed by the introduction of a single system that would make available information on UAS operators, remote pilots, UAS, UAS operations agreed, etc. 

  7. Implementing the UAS management and monitoring system would ensure a structured approach for the continued safe implementation of UAS operations in Latvian airspace. 

Latvian Civil Aviation Agency

About Latvia

Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe next to the Baltic Sea. In 2004 Latvia joined the EU and since then has been actively developing its prominent new role in a rapidly globalizing world community.  

Image by Kaspars Upmanis

It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia covers an area of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi), with a population of 1.9 million. The country has a temperate seasonal climate. Its capital and largest city is Riga.

Latvia Stats

Arriving and departing passengers

7 798 394 in 2019

2 353 064 in 2021

Movements in major airports

(Departures and arrivals)

87 007 in 2019

39 057 in 2021

Aircraft on national register grand total

315 in 2019 

337 in 2021

FCL:828, AML:442, ATCO:91 in 2019

FCL:906, AML:492ATCO:99 in 2021

Total number of certified personnel

in 2019/2021

Number of airports

(excl. private airfields)

27 265 in 2019

27831 in 2021

International cargo traffic

in tonnes

96 000 in 2019/2021

Size of FIR (in km2)

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