Air Traffic Management Magazine recently had the opportunity to speak with Airwayz following their Live Rehearsal Day at the Port of Rotterdam to bring commercial U-Space into real life use. In partnership with Airwayz for its dynamic UTM solution, the Port will be able to provide airspace management for multiple fleets of drones within the port in use by the 3,000 companies who are resident there. During the rehearsal day, the initial results of integrating the UTM system, deconfliction and conformance monitoring were showcased.

Let’s consider the details that were shared during our discussion. It’s all about reducing risk, that was the number one goal of the Port moving in this direction. In addition, there comes an increase in aviation activity that is now possible given this integrated airspace management solution. More security and policing are possible, increased accuracy of asset monitoring and expanded inspections along with a more efficient way to service vessels within the Port.

The dynamic capabilities within the Airwayz solution are AI-driven. As a result, there is no need for segregation or corridors. Dynamic configuration and deconfliction can take place, not only in support of drones but there are many helicopters in flight within the Port airspace.

About the Port

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe, and the world's largest seaport outside of East Asia. It covers 105 square kilometres (41 sq mi), and stretches over a distance of 40 kilometres (25 mi), including the city centre's historic harbour area.

When you think of a Port, the perception is likely that of an area connected to land via docks and of a manageable size. This isn’t actually the case in reality. For vessels who need to anchor in port after offloading/onboard their freight, the closet anchorage is 2km offshore and they get further out from there! This greatly expands the area of airspace that needs to be addressed. These vessels require remote inspection and deliveries of spare parts, documentation, medicine and sometimes food. Drones make this all possible in a more efficient way.

Today they are able to have a full aerial picture of what is happening in the Port airspace – drone operators, manned aviation, sensors, GIS for port operations such as cranes and ship information from the harbor master. The challenge is also increased by the fact that there is a section of the Rotterdam the Hague Airport flight path that goes directly over the Port bringing manned aviation in close vicinity.

The next step will come in early March with the next demonstration day focused on Dynamic Airspace Reconfiguration (DAR). This is the future, as we don’t want to have situations where all of the drones need to be instructed to land when there’s manned aviation nearby. BVLOS is needed for true deconfliction and Airwayz has already supported more than 20,000 BVLOS flights in Israel to date.

This next step will be interesting to see live and working in the Port of Rotterdam.