Brussels Airport and skeyes test use of drones for bird control during normal operations

Brussels Airport and skeyes continue to explore the possible uses of drones at the airport with a second series of testing days. These test days specifically focus on the use of drones for bird control at the airport, to monitor the presence of birds and to direct them away from aircraft when necessary. The tests happen in safe conditions during normal operations and will have no impact on the air traffic.

In normal circumstances drones are prohibited at and around the airport, as a stray drone can create dangerous situations for air traffic. However, in order to explore the possibilities of innovative use of drones, Brussels Airport and skeyes are organising testing days with drones in safe and secure conditions. After a successful test in April with a safety drone, this time the possibilities of a drone for bird control will be further investigated.

During the test days, that started on 9 September, a drone, operated by Citymesh, is used for bird control: to detect, monitor and if necessary, direct birds away from the airport. As much as we love and, through several initiatives, support the biodiversity around the airport grounds, birds have to be kept away from the runways for their safety and that of the aircraft. The airport’s Bird Control Unit regularly circles the airport to prevent and monitor animal presence and to keep them at a safe distance. During these test days, the use of a drone as an additional tool to support the Bird Control Unit is tested.

Given the large surface area of the airport and the fact that certain areas are more difficult to reach by car, a drone can be a useful means of inspecting the airport grounds. The drone is used for monitoring, inspection and mapping out locations of birds and other animals. Additionally, it is equipped with a speaker that replicates the sounds made by birds of prey, acting as a natural deterrent to keep the birds away from aircraft operations. The goal is to find out if the use of a drone for these tasks can increase the efficiency and to test and evaluate the possibilities of using a drone during normal airport operations.

Drones are normally not allowed in the vicinity of the airport for the safety of the air traffic and skeyes is responsible for authorising drone flights in the airspace around Belgian airports. Thus, during these carefully planned test days, the drone flights are carried out in optimal safe conditions, applying efficient and reactive operational coordination procedures established in close cooperation between the air traffic controllers in the skeyes tower and the staff of the Airport Operations Centre at Brussels Airport. The drone is used during normal operations and only operates at a safe distance of the aircraft and in between the take-off and landing of the aircraft. Airport operations and runway use will not be impacted by these tests.

Dominique Dehaene

skeyes - Communication Manager & Spokesperson

Audrey Dorigo

Porte-Parole, skeyes

Brussels Airport Press Office


Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

About skeyes

skeyes ensures the safety and efficiency of air traffic in Belgium 24/7. The skeyes air traffic controllers manage over 3,000 aircraft every day, which makes up over a million flight movements per year. The autonomous public company is active at the heart of Europe, in one of the busiest and most complex sections of airspace of the continent. skeyes is active at Brussels Airport and at the airports of Antwerp, Charleroi, Kortrijk, Liège and Ostend. Thanks to its CANAC 2 control centre skeyes manages the flight movements above Belgium and a part of Luxembourg up to an altitude of 7,500 metres (*). The company relies on its nearly 900 experienced staff members who are at the service of their customers: airline companies, airports, the aviation sector and the authorities. skeyes also develops innovating services regarding drones and contributes to a sustainable future of the aviation sector, among other things with respect to the environment.

skeyes is a member of FABEC, a joint airspace block (Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland) with the aim of improving air navigation efficiency in the heart of Europe in the framework of the Single European Sky.

(*) The upper airspace of the Benelux countries and North West Germany is managed jointly with the EUROCONTROL centre in Maastricht. 


Tervuursesteenweg 303 1820 Steenokkerzeel Belgium

+32 2 206 21 11