Brussels Airport Demonstration

Finding the right balance, 

between protecting and using drones at Brussels airport

Brussels Airport and skeyes organised several demonstrations to evaluate the operational use of drones at and near the airport. Together with several partners SkeyDrone developed a number of scenarios to illustrate how drone operations can be managed in a safe and efficient manner, as well as how sites of this nature can be protected against the safety and security risks that characterise drone operations at and near airports. The experience gained will be used to prepare the airspace for the safe integration of unmanned and autonomous flights alongside the existing manned air traffic.

These demonstrations were the result of extensive preparations. Air traffic safety had to be guaranteed at all times and the activities on and around the runways were reduced to a minimum. The DSA (Drone Service Application) software developed by SkeyDrone that allows drone flight authorisations within the airport’s geo-zone was coupled with the latest detection systems that can detect both cooperative and non-cooperative drones.

How can drones help to make airports (even) safer?

The drone flights that were carried out illustrated the benefits of drone flights in terms of perimeter surveillance and intrusion protection as well as increased efficiency in emergency assistance. A number of realistic scenarios demonstrated the usefulness of drones. In addition a variety of other flights were carried out in close proximity to the airport to simulate so-called clueless, careless and criminal drone operations. All these tests made it possible to demonstrate the usefulness and benefits of an integrated drone traffic management system.

1/ Perimeter check

A first operational use case dealt with airport surveillance. Security personnel that monitor the airport perimeter can only see a limited section of the grounds at any given time. With the aid of drones a much larger area can be covered. In the event of incidents a drone can also be deployed much faster than a human patrol. An example of a plausible scenario is catching an intruder on the grounds.

The presence of animals on the airport grounds also includes certain dangers. The use of drones enables the responsible department to arrive at the scene faster to take the necessary action and gives a more accurate picture of the airport population.

2/ Added value for emergency services

In a remote corner of the airport grounds a crash site was simulated with an airplane hull to demonstrate the use of drone recordings for the emergency services. Thanks to the rapid deployability of drones and their ability to hover directly above a disaster site, emergency staff can make a faster and more accurate assessment of the incident.

3/ drone detection and protection

An important aspect for guaranteeing safety is the detection of non-authorised drone flights and the monitoring of authorised flights. In addition to the authorisation software for drones developed by SkeyDrone, marketed by skeys as DSA (Drone Service Applications), detection equipment has also been brought to bear to distinguish friendly from hostile drones and intercept the latter if necessary.

Hendrik-Jan Van Der Gucht, Managing Director SkeyDrone:

This demonstration on the airport grounds is the best way to test our UTM services (or UAS Traffic Management) in a realistic scenario. Unmanned flights must adhere to the same strict safety standards as manned aviation to allow the safe integration of manned and unmanned flights.”

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