Drones

Drones may pose a risk to air safety if used incorrectly or flown in airspace that is off limits to them. Due to the small size, air traffic controllers cannot see the drones – neither on their radar screens nor physically from the control tower.

If a pilot reports seeing a drone, the air traffic controllers:

  • Warn any pilots flying in the area;
  • Determine whether changes need to be made to the runway use and possibly the routes of aircraft in the surrounding area – should the information provided by the pilot call for this;
  • Notify the Police Aviation Service for law enforcement purposes.

Reports

Air traffic controllers are informed of drone sightings by pilots. These pilots give an approximation of where they spotted the drone. They often indicate in this context that it is difficult to give an accurate estimate of the altitude that the drone is flying at and its distance from the aircraft. Drones are so small that they cannot be seen from the control tower. Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) does not have any information that can be used for further investigation into a drone sighting. The only details at its disposal are those provided by the pilots.

Legislation and regulations

The law prohibits the operation of drones in controlled airspace. In the case of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, this involves an area of some 15 km around the airport. This area includes recreational areas like Amsterdamse Bos, Spaarnwoude and Vinkeveense Plassen.

Further information on regulations relating to drones can be found at: www.rijksoverheid.nl/drones

Numbers

Reported LVNL ATC unit

2016

2017
up to 1 July

Schiphol Airport, Tower and Approach

31

22

Rotterdam Airport, Tower and Approach

3

6

Amsterdam Area Control Centre

4

5

Amsterdam Flight Information Centre

3

-

Maastricht Aachen Airport, Tower and Approach

2

-

Groningen Airport Tower and Approach

2

2

Total

45

35

Drone incident reports January 1, 2016 till July 1, 2017