Recommendation to open Arctic airspace

Recommendation to open Arctic airspace

October 16, 2014
Head of Communication

The Norwegian Board of Technology’s expert group recommends that Norway contributes to opening the airspace over the Arctic.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), more commonly known as drones, can play an important role in emergency response and environmental monitoring in the Arctic. Norway has a major responsibility in this respect.

“Norwegian R & D environments are already leaders in Arctic technology, including the use of smaller drones for research purposes. The use of drones in the Arctic entails little risk for other activities. The sensor capacity of the drones is undergoing rapid development, making them an ideal tool for solving Arctic challenges in environmental monitoring, industrial development and search and rescue operations over the large areas of water in the High North.”

So says Senior Research Scientist Rune Storvold from Norut, who is a member of the Norwegian Board of Technology’s expert group and Chair of the Arctic Council’s AMAP Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) expert group, along with a representative from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

Consequently, drones can be an important tool for search and rescue, as well as monitoring of ice, waters and the environment.

Norwegian authorities are now being encouraged to take a leadership role in reaching an agreement concerning the use of drones in the Arctic.

“Without integrating drones into the airspace, it’s not possible to use drones in the Arctic out of visual range. Under current rules, it’s necessary to apply for permission at least three months in advance and this applies only over Norwegian territory. Other countries, including USA, Canada and Russia, have other requirements, and this limits the use of drones across the Arctic basin. Consequently, it’s currently difficult to conduct routine operations or search and rescue using UAVs,” says Storvold.

The Norwegian Board of Technology’s expert group believes that international cooperation is important and necessary. Further, it believes that the Arctic Council should play an important role with a view to achieving a system of agreements to regulate the use of drones for research, search and rescue in the airspace over the Arctic.

The Norwegian Board of Technology is an independent body for technology assessment established by the Norwegian Government in 1999, following an initiative by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget). Download the expert group’s recommendation in PDF format: Teknologirådet: Droner i Arktis (in Norwegian only).

Read more about the expert group’s recommendation on the Norwegian Board of Technology’s website (in Norwegian only)