Finnish drone corridor opens with BVLOS flights within Oulu controlled airspace

Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) has been investigating solutions for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations for a long time. The centre has now conducted tests alongside Fintraffic on challenging test flights. The flights were carried out between 7 and 8 September in Oulu, within controlled airspace, where the air traffic controller managed both drones and traditional aircraft. A drone corridor had been defined in the airspace where the U-Space system was used for testing traffic control in the lower airspace. The experiences were positive, says the press release.

The drone flights were part of the Drolo project and included flights of over 35 kms in the Oulu region, for example, from Sonnisaari to the Hailuoto island in Oulu, Finland. The flights were flown BVLOS with the Rigitech Eiger VTOL drone and a U-space system was used for airspace control.

“The flights were realised between the island, the city centre and the airport. Considering the distances and destinations, challenging civil drone flights like these have not previously been carried out in Finland. Our project is unique, and I would like to thank everyone who participated in it,” says Timo Lind, Principal Scientist at VTT.

The first demanding specific category flight was made from Oulu Airport to Hailuoto town hall and back. Flight was done by using a RigiTech Eiger drone. This 35-kilometre journey lasted 25 minutes. The Eiger can carry a 3-kilogram payload, with the cellular network serving as the radio link. The air traffic controller also acted as a U-Space operator. The subsequent flight was made from Oulu’s city centre, from Sonnisaari to Hailuoto and back. The flight plans were prepared and launched and the flights were monitored using U-space tools.

VTT and Fintraffic will be collaborating to develop the future of aviation, paving the way for private entities to pioneer safe urban flight and welcome all industry stakeholders to join this collaboration.

The test flights were part of the Drolo development project funded by Business Finland. For two years, the Drolo project has researched unmanned aviation, BVLOS operations and solutions tested on test flights.

(Image: Rigitech Eiger drone, Iiro Polso)

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