A European Union (EU) drone project has tested its first simultaneous drone flights at the Sint-Truiden DronePort with the second live demonstrations scheduled for Antwerp.
The Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment (SAFIR) project tested package deliveries, inspection flights and emergency situations and more during its first trial round.
Erwin Verstraelen, chief digital information & innovation officer at the Port of Antwerp, said: “Drones are a key element in the development of a digital nervous system through the Port of Antwerp.
“A live feed of the various port activities thanks to a network of autonomous drones is a useful tool for the entire port community.”
The SAFIR partners – Amazon Prime Air, Aveillant, C-Astral, DronePort, Elia, Explicit, Helicus, Port of Antwerp, Proximus, SABCA, Skeyes, Tekever and Unifly – will test simultaneous drone flights over Antwerp city centre and port in a world first.
The demonstrations will provide practical insights for the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) public-private partnership, which is the entity responsible for coordinating all EU air traffic management research and development activities.
U-Space is a promotional framework which, in the long term, should facilitate to access to all levels of European airspace, including crewed air transport and air traffic control.
If all goes well, the first U-space basic services will be available by the end of 2019 which will allow a range of drone missions within a sustainable European ecosystem that is globally compatible.
At present, some drone missions are limited in the absence of a clear regulatory framework.
EU Commissioner Violeta Bluc said: “Drones stand for innovation, new civilian services, new business models and economic growth.
“U-Space will help unleash the potential of these new services, ensuring safe and secure integration of drone mobility in both urban and rural environments.”