WATMC 2022: SESAR SAFIR-Med project completes “first BVLOS delivery between two urban hospitals”

By Jenny Beechener

“Three years development work in cooperation with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Belgian regulator, SAFIR-Med brought the first beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) transportation flight between two hospitals in urban airspace,” Mikael Shamim, CEO of Helicus, told delegates attending World ATM Congress 2022 in Madrid. “We have a full ecosystem that combines many different actors in the game to operate successfully.”

The SESAR U-space research project SAFIR-Med completed a SORA (safety occurrence reporting and analysis) compliant beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) transportation flight over a populated area, under the new EASA UAS regulations. The flight took place between two hospitals located in the city of Antwerp on 21 June 2022.

“We have developed software based on specific architecture so that it is expandable & robust and have put in place Swiss cheese model redundant layers of safety.” Mikael Shamim said authorisation has to be fast and drone-agnostic. In addition to detect and avoid capability on board the drone, a central command and control centre provides traffic information that looks 25-40 seconds ahead to avoid potential conflict. “U-space services have to be quality-based. Ultimately, the law says the operator is responsible for damages which means you cannot cut any corners. We have learned a lot since our first flight in Belgium in 2016 and we encourage everyone to continue to take these important steps to grow the industry.”

The Operational Authorisation obtained on 17 June 2022 was the result of:
1) Combined mitigations to reduce the risk for people on the ground and in the air
2) Risk mitigation based on the SABCA designed X-8 multicopter with an integrated parachute, fully compliant with the flight test requirements specified in the ASTM F3322-18 Standard Specification
3) Robust ground organisation, emergency response plan (ERP)

According to SAFIR-Med, SABCA and Helicus have been working on obtaining this authorisation for three years. This authorisation will greatly benefit the development and implementation of sustainable medical flights worldwide. On the short term, SABCA and Helicus will perform more frequent interhospital flights in the cities of Antwerp, Hasselt and Ghent.

Download the 2022 SESAR brochure with initial results from SESAR U-space demonstrations (2020-2022) here

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