The SAFIR consortium of partners – Amazon Prime Air, Aveillant, C-Astral, DronePort, Elia, Explicit, Helicus, Port of Antwerp, Proximus, SABCA, Skeyes, Tekever and Unifly – tested the first simultaneous drone flights today in Sint-Truiden DronePort, for among other things package deliveries, inspection flights and emergency situations. European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc also followed the demonstrations from the front row. SAFIR stands for "Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment," a project funded by the EU. After the first trial round in Sint-Truiden, the press is invited to watch the results of the second live demonstrations in Antwerp on Thursday 26 September together with drone specialists
The demonstrations today and later this month will provide practical insights for the SESAR public-private partnership, which is the entity responsible for coordinating all EU air traffic management research and development activities. The demonstrations thus contribute to the European Commission's regulatory process for safe, standardized and more harmonious access to airspace for drones. Port of Antwerp is also actively involved in this project:
"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 combination of industry and logistics makes the port environment an excellent testing ground for the SAFIR project and other planned drone demonstrations," says Erwin Verstraelen - Chief Digital Information & Innovation Officer at Port of Antwerp.
U-space is a promotional framework which in the long term should 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 in the absence of a clear regulatory framework.
"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," said EU Commissioner Violeta Bulc.
After the trial round at the DronePort in Sint-Truiden, the SAFIR partners will test simultaneous drone flights over Antwerp city centre and port, in a world first. The press can view the results of this test case, with explanations from the various partners involved, at Port House on Thursday 26 September at 10:00. Photographs and other visual material will also be made available. Subscribe at: firstname.lastname@example.org