Technology Base and Twente Airport ideal location for drone activities

The news coverage surrounding the winding down of funding for the Space53 foundation has no effect on Technology Base and Twente Airport as a test and training location for drone activities. The combination of business park and airport with large airspace remains a unique proposition for all drone parties in the Netherlands.

That safe testing and experimentation can take place within the fences of Technology Base and Twente Airport is evidenced by, among other things, the exemption granted to the National Police by the Environmental and Transport Inspectorate to allow test flights around the drone's home port at Twente Airport in a six-kilometer radius, without the pilot still being able to see the drone. The drone thus flies the route independently and returns to its docking station after completion.

Remco Aagtjes, 'Automatic drone' project leader at the police: "The fact that the Inspectorate has granted this exemption is a European first and this is partly due to the protected, extensive terrain and large airspace that we have at Technology Base and Twente Airport at our disposal. This allows us to fly and experiment in a realistic environment and, above all, safely. With the experience we gain here, we can prove that safety on the ground as well as in the air is guaranteed, so that we can obtain an exemption to be allowed to fly further and further away."

Fire Drone

The Twente Fire Department has also been developing and testing their unmanned experimental safety systems for years at the Twente Safety Campus, which is also located at Technology Base. Last year, the Inspection Fire Department Twente also became the first corps in the Netherlands to grant permission to fly a drone out of sight of the pilot. This drone is on the roof of the barracks in Glanerbrug and has been further developed and tested within the fences of Technology Base, allowing it to fly within the built-up area, but only through a narrow corridor and then past high-voltage pylons.

Interreg cooperation German and Dutch parties

Another example is the Emergency Drone, in which German and Dutch parties work together through Interreg cooperation to develop and deploy drones for emergencies. Examples include deployment for drowning victims and missing persons, but also for monitoring and responding quickly to forest fires. An increasing challenge in many areas of the world. Using autonomously operating drones, combined with AI, (incipient) forest fires can be quickly detected and with the (AI) data from the drone, emergency services can be deployed in a much more targeted and safe manner.

Controlled and safe combination of manned and unmanned flights

Nowhere else in the Netherlands are the facilities, including a runway of nearly 3 km and an unprecedented stretch of relatively quiet airspace available combined. Flying manned and unmanned at the same time is not yet done anywhere else and this location is ideal for gaining experience in this step by step, under conditioned and safe conditions. Due to the relatively low number of flights at Twente Airport, there is the possibility of combining this with unmanned systems in a controlled manner. We are currently in talks with various parties, including the high-quality knowledge institutes Saxion and the University of Twente, to gradually put this vision into practice. Altitude Angel is also one of the partners in this. They have developed a system through which drone flight applications can be processed and approved. In the United Kingdom, it is possible to carry out drone flights near airports equipped with this system, and Altitute Angel would like to introduce this to the rest of Europe from Twente as well.

Ideal location for safe testing, validation, certification and demonstration

Jan Schuring, director of Technology Base and Twente Airport: "Thanks to the well-maintained and long runway, the large open space, the existing infrastructure, the relatively quiet airspace and the strategic location, Twente Airport is the ideal airport for the safe testing, validation, certification and demonstration of unmanned systems. The continued development of the drones already being used by the emergency services illustrates how far we have come. Thanks to years of efforts by local authorities, knowledge institutions and the business community, here in Twente we are leading the way in integrating drones into manned airspace. We remain committed to working with the parties involved to maintain our unique proposition, built in part by Space53, and to continue to facilitate the further development of unmanned systems." 

Testing and experimenting with drones

Would you like to use the unique testing and training facilities at Technology Base and/or Twente Airport yourself? Then contact Marieke Vizee: to see what the possibilities are. This applies not only to the further development and testing of unmanned systems, but to all forms of mobility.

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