Antwerp Port to launch UTM system – appoints Unifly as industrial partner

The Port of Antwerp has become one of the first seaports to initiate unmanned air traffic management (UTM) in a busy and complex port environment and is the first non-aviation authority to become a fully-fledged geozone manager, according to a news release. As geozone manager, the port will be responsible for managing ground risk related to above-the-ground activity, with respects to operational and working drones, overall safety and seamless integration of processes required; all of which are intended to ramp up productivity and efficiency of port operations.

Under new European legislation, ports now have the authority to coordinate and manage drones in their airspace, especially with regards to ground risks posed.

According to the press statement:

With the help of drones, ports can increase safety, enforce compliance, and optimise operational efficiency, all with minimal interference to existing infrastructure and process. Port of Antwerp has picked up on this, and as drone traffic in their airspace continues to increase, there is a need to control their airspace and differentiate friend from foe.

“Port of Antwerp has identified specific requirements for its role as a geozone manager, such as the ability to simultaneously handle a multiple workflow, multi-layered authorisation process and robust real-time surveillance and detection capabilities. Given the vast area of responsibility within this busy seaport, it is the first time that a geozone management system of this scale and complexity will be created.

“As such, Unifly has been appointed as technology partner to develop the Port’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform. Unifly has a proven track record rolling out UTM systems at a national level in Belgium, Canada and Germany among others. The Belgian company also collaborated closely with Port of Antwerp over the past few years to initiate research, tests and demonstrations relating to drone traffic management in urban airspaces.

“In addition, the multi-layered authorisation flow is also a first in the industry. Once (the) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) gives the green light, this capability allows timely and seamless processing of flight permissions by port authorities, terminal masters, including enterprise drone operators and other port users.”

(Image: Shutterstock/TonyV3112)

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