Netherlands Witnesses Inauguration of its First Operational Drone Vertiport

May 24 marked a significant milestone in Dutch aviation history with the activation of the nation's pioneering drone vertiport, “Galileo”. The grand unveiling, celebrated by several distinguished guests, occurred when a multirotor drone made its landing at the cutting-edge facility, situated at Rotterdam's Future Mobility Park in Merwehaven.

A corresponding vertiport can be found across the Nieuwe Maas at the RDM shipyard, outlining a blueprint for a network of such facilities throughout the port area.

Anticipated drone usage within the Rotterdam port area spans a wide range of tasks, from inspections and surveillance to package delivery. In order to facilitate these operations, a strategic network of drone take-off and landing platforms – or vertiports – must be established.

Nevertheless, the path to such a reality entails some experimentation in the most realistic environment feasible, a need met by these two pilot vertiports.

Tsjerk Kooistra, the Director of Dutch Drone Company responsible for the test flight, underscored the challenges as lying not in the technology but in the regulations.

“Drones are still mainly used for inspections and the next step is logistics. We can already do a lot in terms of technology, but there are still many regulatory restrictions,” Kooistra said, adding that the demonstration was a starting point to signal to the industry that change is on the horizon.

In the trial flight, a DJI M300 RTK drone was operated by a local pilot. The eventual goal is to enable Beyond Visual Line of Sight () flights and have a single operator manage multiple drones.

Kooistra also stressed the need for establishing transit corridors between different areas, saying, “This enables new business cases such as freight transport and later human transport too. It's time to put the theory into practice.”

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is facilitating drone operations in the port area, including digital assistance for drone traffic to eventually enable widespread BVLOS operations.

The “Galileo” vertiport provides an active testing environment for businesses and research institutions to try out drone services within normal ‘time-slots'. Key collaborators in this initiative include the Future Mobility Park, IT partner Almende, drone operator Dutch Drone Company, helideck provider Bayards, the municipality of Rotterdam, and the Province of Zuid Holland.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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