Skyways by A³
Skyways project, by Airbus A3 Silicon Valley research facility, aims to help evolve current regulatory constraints to allows drones without remote pilots to fly over cities
Airbus Helicopters, April 01, 2017 - The challenge of flying autonomous vehicles over urban areas is summed up neatly by Bruno Trabel from Airbus Helicopters: “No country in the world today allows drones without remote pilots to fly over cities – with or without passengers.” The engineer leads the Skyways project, which aims to help evolve current regulatory constraints.
In February, Airbus Helicopters and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) signed a memorandum of understanding allowing Airbus Helicopters to test a drone parcel delivery service on the campus of the National University of Singapore in mid-2017.
It sounds as if Airbus were planning to become the new Amazon. “Not at all,” says Trabel. “We’ve no intention of competing with the Amazons and DHLs of this world. On the contrary, we see these companies as potential customers.”
For the pilot project, Airbus Helicopters is developing an autonomous drone and the overall infrastructure, which is based on an operation management system created by Airbus Defence and Space.
The goal of the project is to assess the efficiency and economic effectiveness of such a transport system and provide tangible proof to authorities and the general public that commercial drones can indeed operate safely over urban areas.
If we really want to resolve this fundamental question, we have to demonstrate the system under real conditions. This view is shared by CAAS,” says Trabel, explaining why Singapore was chosen as the location. In the Asian city-state, Airbus Helicopters will be able to develop the project in collaboration with the aviation authority. The success of the pilot phase could lead to the beginnings of commercial projects starting in Singapore.
If the team is able to demonstrate the safe operation of Skyways over NUS, this could help shape the regulatory framework for unmanned aircraft system operations in Singapore and potentially increase acceptance for passenger flight testing, thus giving a boost to urban air vehicle projects.