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Antwerp Conducts Simultaneous Drone Trials

Drone test

By The Maritime Executive 09-11-2019 10:37:32

The SAFIR consortium has conducted their first simultaneous drone flights at the Port of Antwerp. The test, conducted in Sint-Truiden DronePort, aims to facilitate the use of drones for package deliveries, inspection flights and emergency situations. 

The "Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment" (SAFIR) project is funded by the E.U., and the consortium partners include Amazon Prime Air, Aveillant, C-Astral, DronePort, Elia, Explicit, Helicus, Port of Antwerp, Proximus, SABCA, Skeyes, Tekever and Unifly. 

The consortium is working to demonstrate how technology is supporting the safe deployment of a multitude of drones in a challenging airspace environment. U-space is a promotional framework to facilitate access to all levels of European airspace, including crewed air transport and air traffic control. If everything goes well, the first U-space basic services will be available by the end of 2019. This will allow a range of drone missions within a sustainable European ecosystem that is globally compatible. At present, some drone missions are limited by the absence of a clear regulatory framework. 

SAFIR has been selected by Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) to demonstrate integrated drone traffic management for a broad range of drone operations in Belgium.  The goal is to contribute to the E.U. regulatory process for drones and drive forward the deployment of interoperable, harmonized and standardized drone services across Europe.

After the trial at the DronePort in Sint-Truiden, the SAFIR partners will test simultaneous drone flights over Antwerp city center and the port, in a world first.  

“Drones are a key element in the development of a digital nervous system through the port of Antwerp,” says Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital Information & Innovation Officer at 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 combination of industry and logistics makes the port environment an excellent testing ground for the SAFIR project and other planned drone demonstrations.”