Port of Antwerp-Bruges granted authorisation for drone network


Port of Antwerp-Bruges and its partners Dronematrix, Skeydrone, and Proximus have been given the green light to launch their drone in a box network D-Hive.

An operational authorisation was granted enabling the port to carry out automated drone flights on a daily basis.

A drone pilot will not be required to be on site as the drones can be supervised from a control room, which means the drones will be flying Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).

The approval was met by visits from key representatives of European and national regulatory authorities related to drone aviation, including EASA, Eurocontrol, FPS Mobility and Transport, Skeyes and DGLV.

The authorities witnessed the first authorised flight of a BVLOS drone near the Kieldrecht lock, operated from a command-and-control centre located in the centre of the port.

READ: Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Vopak to redevelop former Gunvor site

The operational authorisation granted is built around a new BVLOS framework, also known as pre-Uspace airspace, developed by Skeydrone and approved by the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA), and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

All is now set to fully operationalise the D-Hive network of automated drones in the coming months, following the approval of the framework.

This approval comes after the Port of Antwerp-Bruges partnered with Unifly, a software company that is responsible for developing the system that monitors drone flights, to manage drone traffic.

The system sends out a warning as soon as a drone wanders from the specified escape route or when a safety concern arises for any other cause.

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