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.
Get your Part 107 Certificate
Pass the test and take to the skies with the Pilot Institute. We have helped thousands of people become airplane and commercial drone pilots. Our courses are designed by industry experts to help you pass FAA tests and achieve your dreams.
Stay in touch!
Subscribe to our Daily Drone News email.*
Submit tips If you have information or tips that you would like to share with us, feel free to submit them here. Support DroneXL.co: You can support DroneXL.co by using these links when you make your next drone purchase: Adorama, Amazon, B&H, BestBuy, eBay, DJI, Parrot, and Yuneec. We make a small commission when you do so at no additional expense to you. Thank you for helping DroneXL grow! FTC: DroneXL.co uses affiliate links that generate income.
* We do not sell, share, rent out or spam your email, ever. Our email goes out on weekdays around 5:30 p.m.