At the end of June, partners in SESAR’s SAFIR-Med project got the green light from the Belgian civil aviation authority to operate a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight between two hospitals in Antwerp. The flight is fully compliant with EASA’s specific operations risk assessment (SORA) and unmanned aircraft system (UAS) regulations.

BVLOS capabilities mean that flights can be flown beyond the visual range, enabling drones to cover far greater distances and opening up the possibility of a wide variety of applications. In the case of the SAFIR-Med project, the focus is on urgent medical deliveries. These are coordinated through a command and control centre system (C2C), which has interfaces with a U-space services provider (USSP).

The flight, which took place on 22 June, was given authorisation to take off by the civil aviation authorities who validated the project’s processes and technologies in three areas: 

  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).

With this first authorisation, project partners are now planning a series of demos in the cities of Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt, Heerlen and Liège.