Six representatives of government, business and knowledge institutions – including NLR – signed an agreement at Groningen Airport Eelde last week to perform out-of-sight drone flights. These ‘Beyond Visual Line Of Sight’ (BVLOS) flights are important to enable a variety of different societal and economic applications that necessitate drones covering a greater distance. The experiment is dedicated to delivering parcels of medicines to Schiermonnikoog, one of the West Frisian Islands. The flights will take place in March 2018 from the mainland town of Lauwersoog. The other participating parties are UMCG Ambulancezorg, ANWB Medical Air Assistance, Dronehub Groningen (comprising the Drenthe Provincial Government, Omnidrones and Leeuwarden University of Applied Sciences), Delft University of Technology and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the project initiator.
It must be possible to carry out BVLOS flights safely. To run a realistic scenario, the NLR drone will fly across closed airspace above the Wadden Sea where the drone may encounter other air traffic. This makes it important to keep a sufficient distance from other aircraft. The NLR flights will thus provide important input for new legislation. Moreover, the preparation of requirements that must apply to the drone, drone pilot and performance of the flight will yield valuable information about the process of obtaining exemption for such flights.
Participation in the project is in line with NLR’s policy to facilitate the safe integration of drones in civil airspace, also at regional level. Through its contribution to the BVLOS experiment, NLR is taking an important step in that direction.