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5G drone trial above Brussels Airport successful while pilot 60 miles away

5G drone trial above Brussels Airport successful while pilot 60 miles away

A drone controlled by a pilot 60 miles away via a 5G connection has made a number of successful test flights over Brussels Airport. The flights were part of a pilot project to see whether drones can be used at the airport for inspections and security. The airport is also experimenting with a detection system for unwanted drones.

5G drone trial above Brussels Airport successful while pilot 60 miles away

First BVLOS flight

Normally, drones are far from desirable near airports. A trial in which drones fly around an active airport is unique for that reason alone. The idea is that drones can also be usefully deployed above an airport, as long as their deployment is well coordinated with air traffic control and other airport authorities. For example, drones can help with inspections or assist during an emergency.

During a series of test flights on March 31 and April 1, these scenarios were tested in practice for the first time at Brussels Airport. Extra remarkable is that the drone flew far out of sight of the operator (BVLOS). The pilot was in fact in a control center in Oostkamp, ​​60 miles away. The test was carried out by Brussels Airport in collaboration with skeyes. The help of Citymesh was called in for the 5G connectivity and the execution of the BVLOS drone flights.

Monitoring, inspection and drone detection

During the first simulation, it was tested how drones can be used by the security services for inspections and surveillance of sites. The second simulation focused on an incident involving an airplane. The latest simulation mapped the wildlife population, such as birds and rabbits, along the runways.

The tests were preceded by a long preparation, in order to prevent air traffic from being endangered and to ensure that the daily operations at the airport were disrupted as little as possible. To this end, some of the runways were closed and activities on and around the runways were kept to a minimum. This allowed the drones to keep a sufficient distance from people, buildings and aircraft. Everything happened in close collaboration between the air traffic controllers in the tower, the Airport Operations Center of Brussels Airport, Citymesh and skeyes.

Finally, a test was also carried out with a new drone detection system. The purpose was to test whether both authorized and unauthorized drones could be detected and identified. To this end, several types of drones were launched. All flights were then visualized via the drone traffic management system of SkeyDrone (part of skeyes).

Arnaud Feist, CEO Brussels Airport:

“As an airport, it is important to continue to focus on innovation. While drones and aviation may not seem like a good combination at first, this is a new reality that we need to explore. That we also have an innovative first by being the first to control a drone remotely via our 5G network is something we are proud of. The use of drones can be an additional tool in our operation, and these tests will already give us more insight into the possibilities. ”

Comparable test in the Netherlands

Research has also been conducted in the Netherlands into flying drones over a large airport, namely Schiphol. To this end, a temporary change in law was implemented last year, because national regulations did not provide for drone flights in the inner rings of controlled airspace. With the advent of European regulations, more options have become available. However, during the test flights above Schiphol, no BVLOS was flown.

5G drone trial above Brussels Airport successful while pilot 60 miles away

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This article first appeared on Dronewatch.nl and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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