Challenges with permits for drone flights

All test facilities for autonomous aviation across Europe have their own specific focus, but all struggle with the same obstacles. This became evident when representatives from Skellefteå Droneport participated in the networking event organized recently in Amsterdam by the European UAS Test Centre Alliance.

Challenges with permits for drone flights

"Skellefteå Droneport is unique because it is located in an urban environment and is not only intended for testing and development, but also for commercial operations. Additionally, it is situated in a colder and tougher climate than several other test facilities and will probably soon offer a very powerful 5G network," says Henrik Littorin, ELIS program.

During the networking event, representatives from around 30 drone test facilities gathered to share experiences, identify common challenges, and find collaboration opportunities. It became clear that each test facility has its specific niche, but there are also common obstacles. The biggest obstacles identified for expanding operations are challenges with airspace and permits for flights. In these areas, the different facilities can collaborate to find a way forward together with national regulatory authorities and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

"One of several prerequisites for approving drones and drone services for commercial deployment is to be able to generate many flight hours in different environments. Everyone agreed that developed regulations are needed to make it easier and cheaper to obtain permits for test flights, with continued high safety as the most important factor," Henrik continues.

One of several prerequisites for approving drones and drone services for commercial deployment is to be able to generate many flight hours in different environments.

The meeting also made it clear how much is happening in the drone sector within the EU. There are several developers of crafts and supporting systems, numerous potential areas of use, and a great interest from the EU in facilitating the development of drone services. The development of drone test facilities is a priority area highlighted in the EU's latest drone strategy presented at the end of 2022. Skellefteå Droneport could be one of many pieces of the puzzle to accelerate development with its specific niche of the cold climate and urban environment.

The European UAS Test Center Alliance network has been initiated by the German aviation research organization DLR. The network started in early 2023 with primarily digital meetings. Skellefteå Droneport joined in the summer of 2023.

Skellefteå Droneport was represented by Henrik Littorin from the ELIS program and Martin Lundberg from Skanska. Skanska is a collaborative partner in several projects conducted by the ELIS program.

Read more about the ELIS program and the ongoing projects.

For more information, contact Henrik Littorin.

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ELIS Program is a development program for electric aviation with the ambition to become a leading hub in research, development and commercialization of electrified aviation in Sweden and beyond. The program is facilitated by Skellefteå Science City and financed by Skellefteå Kraft, Skellefteå Airport and Skellefteå municipality.

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