At 120 meters high and with vertical ports: Transport air corridors for drones since 2023

  • Enaire, the national air navigation manager, hopes to have the control system ready by that year that will allow 10,000 unmanned aerial devices to fly at the same time

Can you imagine walking through the Indautxu neighborhood of Bilbao or the Malvarrosa of Valencia, look at the sky and see drones pass every few minutes transporting packages? Or air taxi carrying people? It sounds like science fiction, Blade RunnerBut the truth is that Enaire, Spain’s air navigation manager, is preparing for this scenario. And not in the long run.

The brutal advancement of technology has opened a new era of air navigation, where commercial aviation will have to coexist with drones of all kinds with very different functions (parcel, air taxi, surveillance, assistance & mldr;). And Spain wants to be ready from the first moment to offer the necessary technological umbrella to make it happen.

“The date for this to begin to be possible, as established by European regulation, is January 2023 and we have to be prepared by then”, asserts Daniel García-Monteavaro, head of Business Development for drones at Enaire, the national operator dependent on the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda that has been “digitizing” the national sky since April.

Digitize the sky. It sounds very suggestive, but what exactly is that?

Basically, it is to create an automated sky surveillance and control system so that these different navigation models can coexist. That is, create the tool that allows drones, helicopters and airplanes to fly through overlapping airspaces at the same time.

The concept is not new. It’s called U-Space and It was conceived by the European Union 20 years ago in search of the integration of the different airspaces into one. And Spain wants to be an example to follow.

In a first phase, according to García-Monteavaro, the national air corridor for drones and aerotaxis will be 400 feet high, that is, at 120 meters, but “has no height limitation”. In fact, work is being done to steer the drones out of sight. These corridors could reach 100 meters wide.

“We are currently developing the digital platform so that drone operators are connected, some of which are already starting to make deliveries“explains the head of Enaire’s drone division, where 13 people work.

Cast to the yacht

For example, this summer, in Ibiza, a company called Drone to Yacht It already served dishes prepared from high-end restaurants to yachts and boats anchored in the coves. Customers selected what they wanted to eat through an App, the restaurant delivered it to the drone operator and it made it reach the destination in a few minutes.

The figures they handle from the project overwhelm by the high number of allowed unmanned spacecraft. “The system will be prepared so that there can be up to 10,000 users simultaneously, although it can be expanded “, says García-Monteavaro about an urban area mobility project that will begin in 2023 but is not expected to be in full development until at least ten or 15 years from now. In 2022, the first rehearsals in Casteldefells (Bcn), Santiago de Compostela and Villacarrillo (Jaén).

There are already several drone operators very aware of when these new airspaces will be launched, which will begin to work especially in urban environments, such as Umails, Aerocameras or Correos.

Through an application, companies can manage the flight plan or follow the information of other flights always under the control of the area authority.

In the case, for example, that a helicopter wants to enter these corridors for drones – for example, in a hospital transfer – it will have to connect to the system. “If you go to an urban environment, you will have a dynamic reconfiguration tool and that volume (corridor) will be canceled without causing any danger,” explains the head of the air navigation manager.

Similarly, from Enaire they are working on the so-called “vertiports “for aerotaxis, reserved spaces from the air corridor to the ground that function as a kind of landing strip.

García-Monteavaro presented all these novelties on Tuesday at the World ATM Congress that is being held one more year at Ifema and which brings together 6,000 professionals from 110 countries. The congress has the presence of 130 companies from the aeronautical sector and 90 air navigation providers.

Aerotaxi to dos

One of them, Umiles, Spanish, presented this Tuesday the first Spanish air taxi, Umiles New Concept by Tecnalia, which It will allow the transfer of up to two people in a 15-minute or 15-kilometer journey within cities.

Related news

The air taxi developed by Tecnalia, which has been presented during the Expodrónica drone fair, linked to the aforementioned Congress, reaches a height in flight of between 100 and 300 meters, Although it can reach 800, it is made up of an aerodynamic cockpit powered by four drones positioned at the top and bottom of the cockpit that move independently, but coordinated with each other.

This air taxi will start to fly from March in several European capitals, among which is Madrid, as part of a research project, but Umiles does not expect to be able to operate with it as a business until 2030, reports Efe.

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