Test flights of transport drones from Twente Airport and over urban area Enschede

Drone applications are literally taking off. This presents enormous opportunities for providing assistance to emergency responders, inspecting vital infrastructure and buildings, and transporting goods and people. But if you want to deploy drone technology or, in other words, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) for your city, you must also be mindful of the impact it has on residents and other airspace users. To that end, the European project AMU-LED (Air Mobility Urban - Large Experimental Demonstrations) is conducting several demonstration flights over urban areas this summer, including Amsterdam, Enschede and Rotterdam. On Aug. 9, it's up to Enschede. Participating in this international project, alongside major players such as Boeing and Airbus, are Dutch organizations such as NLR, AirHub and Enschede-based drone innovation cluster Space53.

Drones have passed the stage of fun, flying cameras. Today's drone cabs and transport drones are serious tools for countless applications in many industries. By using drones for medical transports, an extra pair of eyes at a fire, site security, building inspections and ultimately the transportation of cargo and people by air, drones can gain their added value to society. The purpose of the demonstration flights over Enschede is to demonstrate the social impact of this technology. In Amsterdam, the focus is on public acceptance and in Rotterdam on the economic (added) value of drone applications.

Air traffic control system for drones

A key to success in realizing a drone network is U-space, an air traffic control system for the safe integration of drones into airspace. Like air traffic control for regular air traffic, the agreements and protocols within U-space ensure that drone flights are conducted safely and efficiently. U-space is highly automated. And, relative to regular air traffic control, requires less human interaction and capacity to handle flights simultaneously.

Research on social impact drones

During the drone demonstration in Enschede, Space53 is testing scenarios at and around Twente Airport (part of business campus Technology Base). These scenarios show how different air users can safely use airspace and what drone applications are possible. First, a transport drone flies from a fictitious hospital - in a meadow on the outskirts of the city of Enschede - with medical supplies on board to Twente Airport. The medicine is delivered by the drone to the trauma helicopter on site. A patient transport is then simulated from Event Location Vliegbasis Twente to the fictitious hospital. At the same time, another drone inspects a building next to the hospital and the trauma helicopter with the just-delivered medicines takes off from Twente Airport. Here it is important that flights are prioritized based on priority and protocols. This is laid down in the air traffic control system. For example, the inspection drone and the trauma helicopter will have to precede the patient transport in this case. The last scenario simulates the transport of a fire extinguisher from a location near Twente fire station Glanerbrug to Twente Airport.

Martijn Mennen, Space53 program manager: "We are proud to represent Enschede as the drone capital of Europe and our innovative partners in the AMU-LED consortium. By doing so, we contribute to the safe integration of valuable drone applications such as support of emergency workers and (urgent) transport. Important development areas within our ecosystem. Currently, it is difficult to bring drone innovations to market and use them in daily practice. The regulations here are still developing strongly and are also different for each country. With our tests we are contributing to the elaboration of U-space, a groundbreaking innovation when it comes to joint agreements, protocols and standards that enable unmanned aviation throughout Europe."

Jan Schuring, Director Technology Base and Acting Director Twente Airport: "Thanks to its well-maintained and long runway, large open space, existing infrastructure, relatively quiet airspace and strategic location, Twente Airport is the ideal airport for the safe testing, validation, certification and demonstration of new forms of mobility such as Urban Air Mobility."

Multiple European test flights

The Dutch demonstrations are conducted under the direction of the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Center (NLR). Other European test flights are also planned. The test flights started in late June in Cranfield (UK), the aim here was to demonstrate the readiness of AMU-LED's solution, technologies and systems. A second demonstration in Cranfield is scheduled for September. The final demonstrations of AMU-LED will happen in Santiago de Compostela in Spain combining all the previous aspects. These are scheduled flights for September and October.

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