World's first '˜drone flightpath' to be tested in Scotland

The world's first drone-only flightpath is to be tested over the body of water between the Isle of Lewis and the mainland.

The world's first 'droneway' will be tested in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
The world's first 'droneway' will be tested in Scotland. Picture: Contributed

Testing will begin later this month for the route, dubbed a ‘droneway’, and will focus on guiding a drone 25 miles between Stornoway and the mainland, over The Minch sea channel, according to the Sunday Times.

A mobile phone network will be used in a bid to convince aviation authorities that drones can be flown safely.

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There have been numerous accounts of drones being flown dangerously close to aircraft, prompting the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to instruct drone pilots to keep their gadgets in eyesight at all times during flight.

The testing will take place over The Minch. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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Telecoms expert Rod MacFarlane, who is involved in the testing, said: “Our aim is to create a designated ‘droneway’ which will be recognised and included on aviation charts, so that civil and military traffic are aware that approved drones could be operating in a particular flight area.

“The area we have chosen for the trial is not congested but it does touch the flightpath of aircraft approaching Stornoway airport.”

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The testing project has received the backing of the Scottish Government and phone operator EE, with the Scottish Innovation Partnership also playing a role.

A spokesperson for the CAA said: “Drones can bring many benefits and are one of the fastest growing areas of the aviation industry.

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The testing will take place over The Minch. Picture: Donald MacLeod

“We are working with a number of projects across the UK that will help to develop future uses of drones and the regulations needed to ensure their safe flight, particularly how they integrate with other airspace users.”