Sky highways - the next big infrastructure - Boodle Hatfield

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15 Feb 2021

Sky highways – the next big infrastructure

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2 min read

The UK has the third largest aviation network in the world, and the second largest aerospace manufacturing sector, but despite these credentials the UK airspace is in need of significant modernisation. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are increasingly being used in delivery of the medical equipment and it is only a matter of time before this technology is scaled up to deploy flying taxis by innovative companies like Skyports and Lilium. The exponential growth in this technology is seeing competing rights of stakeholders for airspace. The Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill (ATMUA Bill) is set to be vital part of UK infrastructure modernisation and it is a key part of the governments approach to UAS. The aim of the bill is to create simpler and more efficient routes, reduce congestion, hit climate change targets, and create a safer environment for those using, operating, and managing the skies.

Another critical aspect of the bill is the delegate authority to the Transport Secretary. UK airspace has a complex interdependent structure and presently, neither the government nor the Civil Aviation Authority is able to provide assurances that airspace changes are implemented. It is envisaged this delegated authority will be used as a last resort to avoid situations were a sponsor holding up changes to airspace proposals or the whole programme of modernisation.

The ATMUA Bill it set to go through the next stage of its reading. It is seen as a positive step in developing our national infrastructure and developing an interconnected built environment.

The main legislative action is second reading of the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill, which started its parliamentary life in the Lords. This is a pretty uncontroversial measure aimed at improving the management of Britain's congested skies

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