LIVE FROM AIRSPACE WORLD 2024, GENEVA: Several key applications for beyond line-of-sight drones are not currently economically viable, Thales digital aviation strategy manager Anaelle Le Mentec (pictured) emphasised, as she outlined leading focus areas for the segment.

During a session on drone traffic management, the expert cited use cases including precision agriculture, where it is not easy to deploy the number of drones needed to make the scenario financially worthwhile.

“It’s much more economically viable to have a swarm of drones doing the inspection of the field simultaneously than just one drone isolated, but that’s not easily possible,” she said.

Though acknowledging progress made within the industry in the likes of application development, she noted work was still needed around air and ground risk management, concepts of operation and achieving approval from authorities to ease the consent process.

She cautioned there was “no one size fits all” to mitigate air risk, with context including where you are and what you can do there vitally important.   

Le Mentec highlighted European Union regulations for electronic conspicuity in this field could be achieved in some cases using the forthcoming ADS-Light standard.

This could use a smartphone application, which “in terms of social acceptance, this is a great way to enable adoption” she added.

The expert noted across all risk areas, those deploying drones require a “comprehensive system” for safety and, together with enabling regulatory policies, this should mean approval time for activities can be reduced.

By cutting the time taken in planning and applying for use, she added it could “make drone operations beyond visual line-of-sight economically viable”.