Heron AirBridge has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to join Inmarsat's Velaris Partner Network (VPN) to develop regulatory and operational frameworks and technologies for safe drone management in urban environments and complex airspaces.
The MoU was signed at Drone Asia 2023, held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, with Dr. Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Transport, Sustainability and the Environment, as the Guest of Honour.
Backed by the Singaporean government, Heron AirBridge is the first unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) technology company in Southeast Asia to successfully create a UTM system capable of managing multiple drone operators.
Since its establishment in 2022, the Drone Technology developer has actively pursued collaborations with industry leaders to support Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) deployment in the region.
Joining the Velaris Partner Network, an initiative promoting cooperation using Inmarsat's Velaris connectivity solution for uncrewed aircraft, offers an excellent opportunity to influence the operational landscape for commercial UAVs globally.
The partnership between Heron AirBridge and Inmarsat will demonstrate how satellite-based technology can support the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into Singapore's commercial airspace. As part of the MoU, Inmarsat will supply Heron AirBridge with low size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) terminals to provide the secure datalink required for beyond-visible-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operations. This marks the first application of Velaris technology in the Asia Pacific region.
Together with the aviation community, the companies plan to co-develop operational standards, frameworks, and technologies to increase UAV numbers in Singapore's airspace and serve as a blueprint for future global implementation.
Ryan Lee, CEO and co-founder of Heron AirBridge, stated that their partnership with Inmarsat is a significant step towards boosting UAV integration in crowded city airspace and updating regulations for global replication. Inmarsat's Velaris technology is crucial in providing the core network and datalink capabilities necessary for UAV integration.
“Uncrewed aviation is a sector poised for growth. The air vehicles and communications technology are ready, but unlocking their potential hinges on consistent, global regulatory progress,” said Joel Klooster, senior vice president of aircraft operations and safety at Inmarsat. “Together with Heron, we are creating a blueprint for the integrated airspace of the future. Leveraging Inmarsat's Velaris technology, coupled with Heron's regional domain expertise, will ensure operators of airspace and UAVs have the tools needed to drive regulatory acceptance in the region and beyond.”
Heron AirBridge's recent strategic alliance with CWT Aerospace and the Singapore Association of Shipsuppliers and Services focuses on maritime drone logistics collaboration. More projects, such as a partnership with King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang to support UTM concepts and technologies research and development in Thailand, will be announced soon.
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