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Lithuania is planning to make use of the European Maritime Safety Agency’s (EMSA) newly-established Remotely Piloted Aerial System (RPAS) for maritime and pollution monitoring as well as search and rescue operations in the European Union territorial waters.
According to SE Oro navigacija, use of an unmanned aircraft of the agency should start in spring of 2018, in order to monitor pollution in the Baltic Sea in Lithuania’s exclusive economic zone, and to provide assistance to responsible services in search and rescue operations in the Baltic Sea.
EMSA provides the European Union states with technical knowledge and operative assistance aimed at safe navigation, better preparedness for cases of pollution, operative response thereto as well as higher level of maritime protection. Lithuania intends to make use of possibilities offered by the agency.
It is planned that a remotely piloted aircraft will be delivered to Lithuania in March–April and handed over to the Lithuanian Naval Force. It has been foreseen that the 150 kg aircraft, with a 5-metre long wing, will operate mostly in the part of Vilnius Flight Information Region over the territorial waters of the Republic of Lithuania and Lithuania’s exclusive economic zone.
It is planned that for civil purposes the unmanned aircraft will be used in Lithuania at least for two months, although the Lithuanian side would wish that it remained longer in Lithuania.
A meeting of representatives of Oro navigacija, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre of the Lithuanian Naval Force, and the Lithuanian Air Force took place on September 5, 2017, to discuss possibilities of use of airspace after starting operating the unmanned aircraft. Also at the meeting opinions were exchanged on how to enhance cooperation between the Maritime and the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centres in the event of an accident of an aircraft or ship at the Baltic Sea.
On the same day participants of the meeting visited Neringa Municipality’s Mayor Darius Jasaitis, who agreed with a proposal on using Nida airfield (aerodrome) for operations of the unmanned aircraft next year.
On September 6, 2017, representatives of Oro navigacija and the Lithuanian Air Force met to discuss possibilities of establishing special activity areas above the Kazlų Rūda firing range and its surroundings, taking into consideration the specifics and nature of use of military aircraft. Issues on how to provide safety of civil aircraft flights after airspace restructuring were also under consideration.
Preparatory work for establishment of airspace over the firing range and its surroundings is planned in the near future.
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