Mönchengladbach Airport (MGL) has announced that funding has been approved for the next research project, SkyTRACKplus, an airport air traffic management system for crewed, drone and uncrewed air vehicle operators.
“Almost EUR 500,000 will be invested in a robust flight operations concept at the Mönchengladbach site over the next 18 months for the safe, plannable and weather-independent parallel operation of manned and unmanned aircraft,” said an airport press release. “Half of this is funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV), with Mönchengladbach Airport alone receiving almost EUR 150,000. Under the name SkyTRACKplus, the MGL, together with the project team (FH Aachen, DRONIQ GmbH, Paderborn/Lippstadt Airport, City of Mönchengladbach) is researching publishable and controlled flight procedures for air taxis and drones, which are created together with air traffic control and tested with a drone. The result is available to all airspace users as a common good.
“Safe flight operations, including the innovative and sustainable new flying objects, are not possible without the appropriate procedures. The concepts developed in this project are therefore an important contribution to the mobility revolution. They not only ensure sustainable mobility offers in urban areas, but also pave the way for the use of the agile, electrically operated flying objects in the medical sector as well as by the fire brigade, police and civil protection. Highly automated and digitally networked, they reduce the CO2 footprint through electrified flying and optimized route and flight management and noticeably reduce noise emissions. A plus, especially in an urban environment.
“The MGL is the real laboratory in this project. Here, at an airport with a complete ground and airside infrastructure including a control zone, the test flights and procedures are planned and tested. For this purpose, two drones will be purchased, which as small-scale demonstrators will test the interaction of several unmanned flying objects in a complex airspace.”
“At Mönchengladbach Airport we offer the complete infrastructure of a multimodal mobility hub to promote the integration of manned and unmanned airspace participants,” saif MGL Managing Director Andreas Ungar. The integration of uncrewed vehicles into the challenging air traffic system with high traffic and airfield density is to be worked out using a sample route between the airports in Mönchengladbach and Paderborn with a stopover in urban and rural areas.
“The MGL has already gained experience with this complex task as part of the SkyCab project,” continued the press release. “The first test flight of the future air taxi took place in 2021 with a small-scale demonstrator drone from Germandrones in accordance with aviation standards and after approval by the aviation authorities in cooperation with DFS Aviation Services. The demonstrator drone received the take-off clearance from air traffic control in the control zone at MGL Airport during ongoing flight operations. With its traffic management system (UTM), DRONIQ ensured the electronic visibility of the flying object for the long-distance pilots from Germandrones along the entire flight route. It’s clear, Only with a combined air situation picture for all air traffic participants can aircraft and the significantly low-flying drones and air taxis be safely integrated into the active airspace. In cooperation with DRONIQ, the interface of the UTM data to the prevailing air traffic system is to be implemented as part of SkyTRACKplus.”
“At the MGL we have potential areas of almost 200,000 m² on which an innovative aviation/drone cluster can be located,” says MGL Managing Director Dr. Ulrich Schückhaus. The training and maintenance operations on site and the recent investment in a battery charger round off the range of services for air taxis and drones.
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