We talked to Marcel Kägi, director of Aviation Policy and Strategy in FOCA, about the drones industry challenges and the need for collaboration and his agency’s involvement in GUTMA
What is FOCA and what is its role and involvement within GUTMA?
FOCA is the Swiss Civil Aviation Authority. It is responsible for the regulation, certification, and oversight of all civil aviation activities in Switzerland. First and foremost, its mandate comprises the protection of the public interests such as safety, security, or environmental protection. In addition, FOCA is responsible for policy work with the view to enabling aviation-related research and development in Switzerland and creating an innovation-friendly environment.
As a small country with an export-oriented R&D sector, we attach great importance to the global harmonization of regulation and standards. As one of its founding members, we believe that GUTMA is in a unique position to make valuable contributions towards that goal.
According to you, what are the biggest industry challenges now?
Pilots speak with ATCOs, which works (more or less) decently for crewed aviation. Drones are computers and currently, no infrastructure speaks their language. In our view, UTM is the missing link to scale up uncrewed BVLOS operations.
Since GUTMA’s inception, the assumptions around UTM architecture have become gradually more harmonized and more specific. The latest advance has been the adoption of the U-Space Regulatory Package as EASA NPA 2021-14. We are also looking forward to the results of the UAS Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight Operations Aviation Rulemaking Committee established by the FAA. Whereas the added legal certainty and the diversification of the ecosystem open up new possibilities for many actors, it also comes with new challenges. From a regulator’s perspective, the question of how airspace access can be granted to a broad variety of operators in a way that is fair and efficient at the same time looks particularly challenging – and interesting as well!
A word about the need to be working along the full ecosystem/value-chain?
There’s only one sky, and it belongs to everyone. If we want drones to scale, all stakeholders need to work together. The diversity in GUTMA’s membership is a key asset in this context. It is a great example of collaboration between industry and authorities to develop an automated testing framework for UTM services.
FOCA is actively involved with industry participants in the InterUSS Platform, an open-source project hosted under the Linux Foundation. InterUSS offers tools to enable interoperability among service providers while supporting authorities in their oversight role.
ABOUT MARCEL KAGI
Marcel is the director of Aviation Policy and Strategy at the Federal Office of Civil Aviation of Switzerland (FOCA). He oversees the strategy development and implementation, with the view to positioning Switzerland at the forefront of disruptive innovation trends, such as drones and UTM. Marcel coordinates and represents FOCA’s interests in national and international regulatory and policy-making efforts in these areas. In his previous positions, he has built up a dedicated innovation and digitalization unit at FOCA and oversaw international aviation safety regulations. Marcel holds a master’s degree in political science and law from the University of Bern, Switzerland, and an Executive Master’s in Public Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK.
“The Swiss FOCA has a longstanding record of accomplishment in shaping global UAS policy, regulation and standards in an innovation friendly manner. Currently, UTM is at the heart of my team’s efforts to create conditions that allow civil UAS technology to scale. GUTMA provides a truly global perspective on the UTM ecosystem.”
ABOUT THE FEDERAL OFFICE OF CIVIL AVIATION
The Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) is responsible for monitoring civil aviation in Switzerland and aviation development. It is responsible for ensuring that civil aviation in Switzerland has a high safety standard and one that it is in keeping with sustainable development.
The Swiss FOCA has a longstanding record of accomplishment in shaping global UAS policy, regulation, and standards in an innovation friendly manner. Currently, UTM is at the heart of my team’s efforts to create conditions that allow civil UAS technology to scale. GUTMA provides a truly global perspective on the UTM ecosystem.
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