West Flanders North Sea drone ecosystem expands with SkeyDrone support

Belgian drone services company SkeyDrone reports steady growth in safe and efficient drone operations in West Flanders in the past two years.

In 2022, SkeyDrone facilitated the implementation of the first offshore Geozone in the North Sea. In collaboration with POM West-Vlaanderen, the company supported the creation of a Drone Geozone at the offshore test platform ‘Blue Accelerator.’ This marked the first-ever Geozone established in the North Sea, enabling POM to coordinate all drone flights to and from the platform effectively, says SkeyDrone.

Left to right: location of the Blue Accelerator Geozone (red square) (source: droneguide.be) – picture of the Blue Accelerator platform

Building on this success, in 2023, SkeyDrone helped lay the foundations for safe Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) drone flights in DronePort West-Vlaanderen. The company was awarded a contract by VIVES/POM West-Vlaanderen along with partners Euro-USC, Unifly, and Senhive, for the implementation of a Drone Traffic Management (UTM) and Detection System in a newly to be created Geozone. These essential components support safe and efficient drone operations in the province of West-Vlaanderen.

Futhermore, the project allowed SkeyDrone to expand its low-level air traffic detection system. Since early this year, Drone operators wanting to conduct BVLOS drone flights in the coastal region can access the copmany’s Traffic Information Service (TIS).

Looking ahead

As the future unfolds, Skeydrone plans to continue its commitment to playing a facilitating role in the further development of the West Flanders drone ecosystem, and is poised to undertake several upcoming projects.

One of these projects is Develop Innovative Offshore Logistic (DIOL), which aims to develop offshore logistics solutions to support the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in the North Sea. SkeyDrone, along with VIVES, the port of Ostend, and other European project partners, will develop drone-based offshore solutions. SkeyDrone contributions include implementing U-space drone corridors between land and offshore renewable energy platforms and managing offshore drone traffic as a U-space service provider, in coordination with skeyes, responsible for ensuring the safety of manned air traffic.

SkeyDrone is actively involved in the Medical DROne Supplies (MEDROS) project, led by VIVES and co-funded by the Flemish agency VLAIO. This project aims to establish a roadmap for point-to-point drone transport and create a logistics setup for the efficient and timely transportation of high-value, time-critical goods in the medical sector. SkeyDrone is providing consultancy services to VIVES, including the development of a Specific Operational Risk Assessment (SORA) for BVLOS operations, as well as (pre) U-space services and a Traffic Information service.

Furthermore, the province of West-Vlaanderen is exploring the operationalization of drone services provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) project. SkeyDrone aims to become a strategic partner of EMSA by offering operational services for BVLOS drone flights, facilitating coordination with Air Navigation Service Provider skeyes, and catering to the needs of maritime civil and military stakeholders.

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