Benidorm hosts mass drone flights with three U-space providers in U-ELCOME demonstration

Benidorm is hosting a massive flight of more than 25 drones operating simultaneously in an urban environment. The demonstrations, held 1 December 2023, represent a milestone in the field of technology for the management of drone operations of this nature. The programme is carried out with the collaboration of the Benidorm City Council.

In the demonstration, more than 25 drones connected to three U-space service providers (USSPs): Airus (ITG – Instituto Tecnológico de Galicia), Aslogic and the air navigation service provider in Spain, ENAIRE will operate. In turn, these USSPs will be interconnected with each other through the ENAIRE U-Hub platform, which will enable the exchange of operations information among the three USSPs participating in the demonstration. The provision of the common information service (CISP) which, besides housing the repository of the airspace and restricted or prohibited areas data, also facilitates the connectivity with the air traffic control services of conventional aviation and other privileged users such as local administrations, emergencies or law enforcement agencies, is also contained in ENAIRE U-Hub.

The drone operators involved represent a multitude of sectors, each with different needs and with the same goal of achieving full integration within U-space.

First of all, members of the State Security Forces and Corps: Air Resources of the National Police Corps of Alicante, Valencia, Castellón and Murcia, the PEGASO team of the Civil Guard of Alicante, the Autonomous Police of the Generalitat Valenciana, and Local Police Corps of Benidorm, Valencia, La Nucia, Finestrat, Villajoyosa, Campello, Elche, Altea, Jávea, Denia, Gandía, Cullera, and Paterna. On the other hand, members of the Fire Department of the Valencia City Council will also be incorporated, as well as the Valencian Agency for Security and Emergency Response (AVSRE). The latter will also provide an Advanced Command Post to give added value to the emergency drills that will be carried out during this flight campaign. Finally, there will also be civil operators belonging to the Universitat Politècnica de València and the companies UAV Works, General Drones, Mediterracinema and Blau Comunicación. In addition, a flight with a light aircraft will be performed, raising initially the interaction between manned and unmanned aircraft.

This is the first flight campaign in the Valencian Community of a series that, also within the framework of the U-ELCOME project, will be extended until 2025, with the next validation scenarios being the cities of Valencia, the Siete Aguas Aerodrome and the Castellón Airport.

The Benidorm demonstration is part of the European Project U-ELCOME for the early deployment of U-space services in Europe. U-ELCOME is led by EUROCONTROL and financed by the European Commission with a total budget of EUR15 million, and supported by the Universitat Politècnica de València. U-ELCOME is conducting demonstrations in three countries (Spain, Italy and France) with the involvement of 51 partners belonging to public and private entities and companies.

The tests aim to validate the first U-space services from the collection of representative data to optimize and lay the foundations of this new concept of automated and digital management of routine drone operations in specific areas enabled for this purpose, called U-space airspace, which will soon be deployed in Europe.

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