European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)’s regional remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) services for enhanced maritime surveillance in the Baltic Sea began this week under the co-ordination of the Estonian Police and Border Guard, following initial steps taken in 2020
The RPAS service is provided free by EMSA, which uses a remotely piloted aircraft to gain a better picture of what is happening at sea. Previously, the sniffer drone was deployed over the English Channel.
This was particularly useful in this region where busy shipping lanes and high cargo traffic make maritime safety and security a challenge.
The RPAS service will be hosted by the Estonian Police and Border Guard in the first instance, followed by the Finnish Border Guard later in the year.
Independently of where the flights take off, operational co-operation is possible among all the participating member states which, in addition to Estonia and Finland, also includes Latvia and Sweden.
The information collected on board the remotely piloted aircraft is shared simultaneously with these neighbouring countries, helping them to create a common maritime picture and respond in close co-ordination with each other.
The service is a great example of how one resource can be used by several countries for multiple purposes to enhance maritime safety and security with the maximum efficiency.
The aircraft being used is a CAMCOPTER S100 model and it is under contract to EMSA from Schiebel Aircraft.
It has several features making it suitable for this service, including the ability to take off and land from an area smaller than 5 m x 5 m, flight endurance of more than six hours and a range of greater than 100 km.
Information is gathered on board from optical and infrared cameras as well as from an AIS receiver and an automated maritime surface search sensor for detecting targets at sea.
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