Drone flights under Spain’s Enaire air traffic control system up 70% in 2022

Drone Enaire air control

In yet another sign of the swiftly increasing use of UAVs around the globe, Spain’s national air traffic control company Enaire reports the number of drone flights it managed last year increased by a whopping 70% over 2021.

Enaire said its air traffic control system oversaw 10,325 drone flights as requested by operators in 2022, 673 of which took place in the last month of the year alone. It noted that only about 200 of those UAV sorties monitored by controllers in December came at the behest of police, emergency, or first responder units, suggesting the vast majority covered during the rest of the year were also the kinds of now routine enterprise activity fueling rapid drone operation in most nations around the world.

More broadly, Enaire said drone air traffic across Spain averaged at about 140 flights per day, or roughly 50,000 missions over the year. It noted the daily average in 2021 was 76 daily flights.

Relatively strict regulations in Spain – and, indeed, in many European Union countries – limiting where and how UAVs can be flown tend to reduce the total number of outings compared to more flexible places like the US, particularly by leisure pilots.

Yet the Enaire statistics suggest that over 20% of all the legally permitted drone flights in 2022 requested and received oversight from air traffic controllers – an indication of the craft already being smoothly integrated into Spain’s airspace.

Enaire says its planea.enaire.es website has been devised to allow professional drone operators to submit the aeronautical safety studies needed to fly in airspace under the responsibility of control towers and navigation centers. Once accompanying requests have been approved by the organization’s operations management unit, the missions can be carried out under the watch and aegis of air traffic management authorities.

Ranked fourth-largest air traffic management agency in Europe, Enaire has been tasked by its Ministry of Transport overseer to organize the integration of drones into Spain’s skies as part of its broader mission to help prepare and organize the country’s U-Space.

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