With the introduction of new European drone regulations in 2021, the Netherlands has given permission to create more space, where are less strict rules for flying with drones. For example, test and experimental flights are made possible. In the steps towards this, Unmanned Valley works together with the Micro Air Vehicle Laboratory (MAVLab) of TU Delft to make BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) flights possible by the end of this year.
Opportunities of BVLOS-flights
The project plan of realising BVLOS-test flights are divided in different phases. The first phase is to fly from a ship at sea, to the beach and from the beach via a corridor to the sea. This will be all directed from Unmanned Valley’s location on Valkenburg Naval Air Base.
The opportunity to use Unmanned Valley for BVLOS-testflights and market demonstrations this year, helps companies, knowledge institues and the Dutch government to gain experience that can be used for future business cases, safety and regulations. At the same time, having BVLOS flights will give a boost to the future development for drone operations and accelerate the Dutch drone sector.
“The biggest economic and social potential of drones is conducting professional BVLOS-flights. This opens a new world full of opportunities” according to Bart Remes, project manager at MAVLab. “The development of the drone sector is worldwide accelerating in a major speed. The Netherlands has a good starting position, but we would like to full advantage of this development and it is essential that there is a structural possibility of BVLOS-test flights. In Europe, the division is now being made, so the faster we take part, the better”.
Advantage of BVLOS-flights
“In March 2018, MAVLab performed the first BVLOS-test flight in the Netherlands. From that moment, the knowledge about BVLOS-flights increased in the Netherlands and abroad. The delayed introduction of the EU-regulations does not mean delay for execution in the Netherlands” says Theo de Vries, programme manager of Unmanned Valley. “Unmanned Valley offers a unique location, where drones and other sensor-based innovations could be responsibly researched, developed and tested. The location is around 3,5 km away from the North Sea and is outside of the controlled traffic region (CTR) of active airports. The location could be used for testing other UTM-concepts as well such as an electronic license plate for drones, accurate drone-tracking and geo-fencing.”
With the increasing sophistication of drones the past year, the focus is shifted towards the developments of innovative applications. Currently, drones are used for applications that could not be imagined a few years ago. With the BVLOS-flights, the use of drones would increase. For example, drones could be used on sea, for inspection, for maintenance of wind mill parks, for detection, for logistics such as medical delivery, for monitoring and so on.
About Unmanned Valley
Unmanned Valley is an initiative from TU Delft and City of Katwijk, and made possible by a contribution from the European funds for regional developments of the EU. Since the start of the Unmanned Valley in March 2018, major steps are taken and a strong foundation is built for further developments of the field lab. The past years, the Central Government Real Estate Agency worked on a sustainable renovation and transformation of a former airplane workplace to an inspiring work environment. The first companies are moving to Unmanned Valley this month.