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A single application to serve the aviation industry

Published on 16.7.2021

It’s been proven that Finland has some of the most efficient air routes in Europe. The digitalisation of aviation is set to make operations even more efficient in the future. How far have we come with digitalising aviation? And what benefits will it bring to those who use Finnish airspace?

All essential information about a flight will be collated in a single application

Although digital data has long been available in the aviation industry, it has not yet been structured and centralised. Fintraffic’s goal is to create an app and user interface that will allow the pilot, or another person involved with the flight, to access more services from one place.

“In addition to safety and user friendliness, R&D is focusing on the app’s visuals, which will enable those working with flights to gain a better understanding of the data,” says Pasi Nikama, Senior Vice President at Fintraffic Air Navigation Services.

The app will be a one-stop solution for a broad range of real-time information, such as weather data, airport services and opening hours, and any airport maintenance work or exceptional circumstances that may affect flying. While in the air, pilots will also be able to check airspace reservations with the aid of the app’s digital map. This will enable them to choose a safe route that, for example, avoids military training grounds.

Flight plans are advisable even if they are not obligatory

Fintraffic’s Air Navigation Services are responsible for managing Finnish airspace and providing air route services and air navigation services at 22 airports. Air navigation services ensure that the captain safely receives permission to land, and also maintain the radar, navigation and radio equipment in the airport environment. In order to safeguard the provision of air navigation services, Fintraffic is also responsible for deploying and maintaining any required systems in accordance with international standards.

“Everyone who takes to the skies will be an air navigation customer. You’ll need permission from air traffic control to fly in a controlled airspace, but you can also fly elsewhere. Although flying in an uncontrolled airspace gives you more freedom, it’s still advisable to draw up a flight plan for your aircraft, so that air rescue services can also be provided if necessary,” says Nikama.

The app that is currently under development will make it easier to draw up a flight plan, as you will be able to send the plan directly to the right place. Pilots will no longer need to call air navigation services to ask whether their plan has arrived and been approved. In the future, you will be able to enter all of the information required for a flight plan into the app, such as the route, schedule, altitudes, and information about the aircraft.

Drones must now be registered in the official register

From the beginning of 2021, all unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones) weighing more than 250 grams must be registered with the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom. Drones weighing less than 250 grams must also be registered if they are equipped with, for example, a camera. There are an estimated 50,000 drones in Finland that fall within the scope of the new rules,

which are based on an EU regulation that aims to ensure overall air traffic safety (that is, of both ordinary air traffic and the growing volume of unmanned aerial vehicles). In collaboration with Traficom, Fintraffic has created a registration service that both professional and amateur drone operators can use to register in the legally required manner. Operators can use the service to register, sign up for the test, and edit any data already in the register.

“One of our future goals is to develop Fintraffic’s portal into a marketplace for drone operators that provides a situational picture of the airspace and other services in addition to flight advisory services,” says Nikama.

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The digitalisation of aviation is a welcome but lengthy process

For younger pilots in particular, the digitalisation of aviation is just a natural part of an already familiar trend. However, the changes have also been well received among older customers, as digitalisation facilitates and speeds up aviation-related functions.

“Digitalisation can be used to create an app that is independent of time and location. For example, a seaplane pilot can quickly draw up a flight plan at the dock just before taking off,” says Nikama.

Fintraffic is working to provide airspace users with better, real-time services, so it can offer the world’s best airspace management, air traffic control, and traffic data. The digitalisation of aviation is a vital component of this vision. Digitalisation will enable information to be collated in one place, so that all pilots will be able to obtain consistent, real-time data that will increase safety throughout Finnish airspace.

“In air navigation and aviation in general, developing new operating models and platforms is a lengthy process, as functionality must be thoroughly guaranteed before deploying new things in a safety-critical sector. However, we’re now getting up to speed and I expect to see digitalisation driving positive advancements in the sector over the coming years,” says Nikama.

The summer months are prime time for small aircraft. If you turn your binoculars to the skies, you will see all kinds of small planes, gliders, drones, and occasionally even a hot air balloon.