AMC Portal: A Valuable Asset in Times of Earthquakes (January 21, 2021)
A great job controlling the airspace and enabling all airspace users to provide their services following a strong earthquake that struck the Croatian Sisak-Moslavina County on December 29, 2020, was done using the AMC Portal and its mobile application.
The AMC Portal has once again proven to be a valuable airspace management tool specially designed for drones, since all activities regarding informing, coordinating, and directly communicating with all unmanned aircraft operators and pilots done by the Airspace Management Cell (AMC) went through it.
The strong earthquake of magnitude 6.2 on the Richter scale also shook the infrastructure of Croatia Control, since its Area Control Center with AMC Croatia and the Zagreb/Lučko Approach and Aerodrome ATC Unit were only 40 km away from the epicenter of the earthquake in Petrinja.
The Croatian Civil Protection Directorate and Croatian Mountain Rescue Service requested a protected area in the airspace affected by the earthquake. AMC Croatia ensured an appropriate airspace structure within 15 minutes upon receiving the request, enabling the emergency services to lift their drones up for a better overview of the situation and to help their ground units in rescuing the affected population.
The civil protection unit requested the evacuation of severely ill people from the destroyed hospital in Sisak, which was done by the helicopters of the Ministry of Defense (MoD). AMC Croatia was managing airspace via the AMC Portal, enabling manned aircraft to do their job as quick and safe as possible by controlling all operations of unmanned aircraft.
Airspace was flooded with state services’ drones (Civil Protection Directorate/firefighting brigades, Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, the police, customs, and the MoD) and there were many requests for drone areas in the concerned airspace by the media. AMC Croatia established a no-fly zone for all operations except for emergency services by simply denying all other requests through the AMC Portal, thus enabling the emergency services to operate uninterruptedly in the wider area of the catastrophe, whereas the media were informed that aerial footage would be shot by the emergency services only and made available for further use.
In addition, real-time coordination was established between the emergency services to align and ensure UAS operations for medical evacuation and hospital helicopter flights in the area. There was a MALE UAS operated by the MoD in the air, monitoring the broader area at a higher altitude, while the lower altitudes were used by helicopters and small drones simultaneously.
The Zagreb earthquake of March 2020 of magnitude 5.5 on the Richter scale, when the AMC Portal was also used to handle and coordinate emergency response activities in airspace, has given us valuable experience to handle the Petrinja earthquake efficiently.