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15 April 2023
Breaking boundaries with medical drone demonstrations in European Urban areas 
The Upcoming U-space regulation_edited.jpg
Breaking boundaries with medical drone demonstrations in European Urban areas 

The SAFIR-MED project, focused on demonstrating the integration of multiple simultaneous uncrewed aircraft missions, has successfully concluded demonstrations in Antwerp, Belgium, and the MAHHL region (German, Dutch, Belgian cross border region around the cities of Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt, Heerlen, Liège). The project, backed by SESAR Joint Undertaking and EASA, sought to showcase U-Space, a set of services aimed at enabling seamless integration of automated uncrewed aircraft missions, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) backed by a European legal framework. 

Authorization Preparations 

To project consortium decided to use new European drone law as soon as it was implemented end of December 2020 and immediately started the authorization request process. With demonstration flights scheduled throughout 2022, the project team worked tirelessly to secure necessary permissions from regulatory bodies in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. 

De-risking Activities 

SAFIR-MED carried out a two-pronged approach to de-risking, focusing on both operational and U-Space aspects. This involved extensive training, hardware-in-the-loop flights, and practicing simultaneous control of multiple drones. In March 2022, full hardware-in-the-loop operational de-risking flights were carried-out at DronePort, Belgium to test the coordination of multiple uncrewed aircraft in the air simultaneously. 

DronePort, Antwerp, and MAHHL Demonstrations 

The SAFIR-MED project successfully showcased drone integration across various locations and demonstration flights throughout 2022.  

Maturity Criteria and Challenges 

The SAFIR-MED project demonstrated significant progress in operational, system, and performance criteria and set the stage for further developments to improve U-Space processing times, airspace routing, priority handling, reliability, and cost-effectiveness to support the demanding requirements of medical drone missions. 

[Image suggestion: An infographic summarizing the maturity criteria and challenges.] 

Human Performance and Safety 

SAFIR-MED highlighted the importance of minimizing human involvement, automating flight authorization processes, and reducing the learning curve for crews. As the project showcased, seamless integration and collaboration between manned and unmanned aviation is key to the future development of the drone sector. 

Standards and Regulations 

The project exposed the need for further development of U-Space regulations, standards, and interoperability. The successful exchange of information between different U-space actors using the Helicus C2C system, the Unifly UTM system powering SkeyDrone and Droniq, Involi and Droniq live traffic, demonstrates the potential for a more integrated ecosystem. 

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