Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, are becoming more and more popular. However, not many people now that reckless use of these machines can put at risk human safety. Reports about UAV owners using aviation frequencies, putting at risk air traffic safety, come nearly every week, as reported by Elektroniskie sakari.
Use of inappropriate frequencies can result in connection loss between UAV remote controls and the drone itself. In order to avoid such problems, experts urge UAV owners in Latvia to ensure the frequencies they use comply with Latvian frequencies plan.
UAVs are becoming more and more popular in Latvia – they are often used to film and take pictures during concerts, out in the wild and in towns. According to radio-communications engineer Martins Gludins, radio-controlled drones do not require individual radio frequency permits as long as they use radio frequencies stated in the National Radio Frequencies Plan.
Some of the frequencies are allowed to be used without permission. However, there are a number of radio frequencies the use of which has to be individually coordinated. It is absolutely prohibited to use frequencies reserved for navy, air traffic, emergencies and danger warning frequencies.
Although UAV control and data transfer functions use multiple types of common frequencies, and considering that UAVs sold in Europe are programmed to use the same ones by default, sometimes people buy these devices from other countries, which means those devices are not necessarily programmed in accordance with EU standards.
Before turning on a UAV, make sure the drone is programmed to use only permitted radio frequency waves; it is not all that complicated. If the UAV has CE label, it means the device is already programmed for a specific range of frequencies.
If there is no such label, the device cannot be used.
One other important thing to mention is using drones close to prohibited areas, airports and close to infrastructure objects: roads, rail-roads, chemical storage facilities or crowds of people. As mentioned by head of European Affairs and International Relations office of Civil Aviation Agency Aivita Lublina-Goldmane, drones are a new thing for Latvia. With that, people often do not understand the potential dangers these machines pose. There have already been multiple situations when pilots noticed UAVs flying very close to aircraft. «UAVs are not birds – they pose a serious threat to aircraft. Imagine what would happen if a UAV crashes into a passenger aircraft,» – says CAA representative.
Drones can also create serious risks when hovering above Riga Freeport, where large volumes of chemicals are stored at all times. She also mentions the dangers of a drone crashing into a train or a crowd of people during a concert or some other event.
«If you decide to pilot your drone above a field on a low altitude, you don’t have to inform anyone about it. But if you want to pilot the drone in some public place, you have to coordinate your plans with CAA,» – explains Lublina-Goldmane.
Drones referred to in aviation as RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) were not all that popular a few years ago. Lately, however, they have become a lot more popular. This is why requirements are being developed around the world in order to make sure drones do not put at risk aircraft and human safety. Europe plans to adopt new regulations before the end of 2017. Shortly after that, Latvian authorities plan to develop rules for Latvia as well.