Brussels Airport and skeyes extend drone trials to evaluate their use alongside manned aviation

Brussels Airport is testing drone operations at and around the airport ahead of introducing the new technology for bird control. After a successful test in April, the airport authority and air navigation service provider skeyes expanded the trials in September.

According to a skeyes press release, a drone, operated by Citymesh was used to detect, monitor and if necessary, direct birds away from the airport to support the Bird Control unit.

Given the large surface area of the airport and the fact that certain areas are more difficult to reach by car, a drone can be a useful means of inspecting the airport grounds. The drone is used for monitoring, inspection and mapping out locations of birds and other animals. Additionally, it is equipped with a speaker that replicates the sounds made by birds of prey, acting as a natural deterrent to keep the birds away from aircraft operations. The goal is to find out if the use of a drone for these tasks can increase the efficiency and to test and evaluate the possibilities of using a drone during normal airport operations.

Drones are normally not allowed in the vicinity of the airport for the safety of the air traffic and skeyes is responsible for authorising drone flights in the airspace around Belgian airports. Thus, during these carefully planned test days, the drone flights are carried out in optimal safe conditions, applying efficient and reactive operational coordination procedures established in close cooperation between the air traffic controllers in the skeyes tower and the staff of the Airport Operations Centre at Brussels Airport. The drone is used during normal operations and only operates at a safe distance of the aircraft and in between the take-off and landing of the aircraft. Airport operations and runway use are not impacted by these tests.

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