Inspection drone trials to be conducted at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Due to reduced aircraft movements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and LVNL have been able to schedule a week-long drones trial.

Inspection drone trials to be conducted at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Credit: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) has announced that it will conduct a trial involving drones with cameras for inspection of taxiways, small buildings and aircraft and drones that transport light goods between different locations at the airport.

By conducting the trials, the potential benefits of drones are being explored – for example, to inspect structures, like the asphalt surface; perform operational processes, such as de-icing; and supply aircraft parts for maintenance – and will examine if the uses are both desirable and feasible for the future.

The regulated use of drones will be permitted at Schiphol Airport until 24 June 2020 as a result of a temporary regulation introduced by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management that lifts the ban on regulated use of drones by designated parties in Schiphol Airport’s operations. The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate then gave a positive assessment of the specific applications. All other bans and obligations will continue to apply.

The flights will be conducted in coordination with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) by certified parties who have direct contact with the air traffic control tower. Any other use of drones by unauthorised persons in the vicinity of Schiphol Airport will remain expressly prohibited, as usual. LVNL took the lead in obtaining this temporary arrangement after seeing the opportunity arise amid a significantly lower amount of flight movements due to the coronavirus crisis.

Director of Operations at LVNL, José Daenen, said: “Our plan is to integrate drones into our airspace in the future so that unmanned and manned aircraft can operate safely side by side. That is a challenging task. We see the current, quieter airspace as an opportunity to practise this and test procedures. In this trial, we can gain initial experience regarding how to safely fly both manned aircraft and drones at Schiphol.”

The tests will take place at a safe distance from the runways and taxiways that are being used for air traffic. There will be visible testing on the various designated platforms and at various heights with different drones. The aim of the trial is to show how the procedures designed for the use of drones at airports work in practice.

Hassan Charaf, Head of Innovation at Royal Schiphol Group, said: “There is currently 85 per cent less air traffic at Schiphol compared to the same period last year. This is extremely unpleasant for airlines and many travellers, but also gives us the opportunity to carry out a test like this. Based on this trial, we would like to find out if the use of drones is helpful to organise processes more efficiently, sustainably and effectively. We are pleased with the temporary arrangement and proud that – together with our partners – we have been able to set up this trial so quickly.”

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