The civil drone sector in Spain continues to grow at a very high rate, with no stabilisation in sight. For ENAIRE, as the primary manager of Spanish airspace, its integration and safe operation, particularly in environments where there is manned and unmanned aircraft traffic, must be carried out in compliance with a series of requirements that guarantee operational safety, physical security, cybersecurity and privacy.

The European Commission has developed the European Drone Strategy 2.0, which lays out a vision for further development of the European drone market. It is based on the EU safety framework, the most advanced in the world, to operate and establish technical requirements for drones. This strategy specifies how Europe can carry out large-scale commercial operations with drones while offering new opportunities in the sector.

Regarding the rules and procedures applicable to the use of civil unmanned aircraft, there is a Europe-wide reference regulation, Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 on procedures, together with Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 on UAS and on third-country operators. At the national level, there is Royal Decree 517/2024, published on 4 June 2024, which implements the legal regime for the civil use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and amends some related regulations. This continues an evolving trend in this national regulation, which is the third in just 10 years, and is consistent with European regulations in terms of promoting faster development in the sector, while letting all the players gain experience.

Spain's National Aviation Safety Agency (AESA), as the supervisory, inspection and management aeronautical authority, ensures that civil aviation standards are complied with in all of Spain's aeronautical activity, and in the field of UAS certificates, it is responsible for registering aircraft, operators, and issuing the relevant certificates and authorisations. AESA represents the first step for any drone pilot, whether professional or recreational, to which end it provides the necessary information on its website.

For its part, ENAIRE, as the leading national civil provider of air navigation services, and as the air traffic manager in Spain, provides en route control services for all flights and overflights from five control centres in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Gran Canaria and Palma, as well as approach services to every airport in the country, and aerodrome control services from 21 control towers, including the busiest in the country. It is also the coordinating body for professional and recreational UAS in all the airspace under its responsibility, which includes the uncontrolled airspace.

The current coordination of UAS flight operations provided by ENAIRE, prior to U-space, is part of the airspace management (ASM) service during the pre-tactical phase, that is, prior to the flight itself and through which separation is ensured with other expected or known operations. Therefore, these UAS flights do not receive air traffic (ATC) or flight information (FIS) services like manned aviation does, even when they are in controlled airspace.

ENAIRE's effort to continue providing an increasingly efficient service adapted to the new needs of drone users, within the current regulatory context and its functions as a national air navigation service provider, is constant. The company is participating in multiple working groups and investing a large part of its effort on adapting and improving its systems and applications, such as ENAIRE Drones, ENAIRE PLANEA, INSIGNIA and ICAROXXI.

Remember, the best safety barrier is responsible use!