SkeyDrone supports Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport’s ambitions to become a drone hub

Wevelgem, 22 May 2024 – International Airport Kortrijk-Wevelgem is paving the way for a sustainable future by fully committing to drone technology. The first step involves installing a new drone detection system to ensure air traffic safety in and around the airport. To test this system, the airport temporarily suspended crewed air traffic today for several drone demonstration tests.

West Flanders, a Top Region for the Drone Sector

Over the past years, POM West-Vlaanderen has aimed to make West Flanders a leader in drone innovation. “Together with VIVES, we opened Drone Dock, the innovation and demonstration center for drones in September 2023, next to Ostend-Bruges Airport. In November 2023, we signed an agreement with the national Air Navigation Service Provider skeyes to enable drone flights over the North Sea and between the regional airports of Ostend-Bruges and Kortrijk-Wevelgem,” says Jean de Bethune, chairman of POM West-Vlaanderen.

Seeing is believing

The next step in developing West Flanders into a top drone region is activating the regional airports as future drone hubs. “To coordinate uncrewed and crewed air traffic, we first need to map all authorised and unauthorised flights in and around the West Flanders airport area. Safety is paramount,” says Jean de Bethune. “That’s why we commissioned SkeyDrone to equip Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport with drone detection technology. Visualising all air traffic is essential if we want to integrate drones. The Ostend-Bruges Airport is also being equipped with this technology.”

Numerous Drone Applications

Drones have many applications. “We can deploy drones for the inspection and surveillance of runways and other infrastructure,” says Jean de Bethune. “Furthermore, we see significant opportunities at Kortrijk-Wevelgem for larger cargo drones. Using these drones can greatly increase efficiency, safety, and operational processes, such as distributing urgent spare parts.”

Surveillance and Safety

Drone operators who wish to fly near a controlled airport must request their flight in advance to skeyes via the Drone Service Application, a tool developed by SkeyDrone. Our drone detection solution monitors, compares, and processes data from drone detections and flight authorisations,” says Hendrik-Jan Van Der Gucht, Managing Director of SkeyDrone. “This allows us to distinguish between authorised and unauthorised drone flights, which helps to further improve safety in the lower airspace.”

Real-Time Drone Demonstrations

Today, Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport temporarily suspended crewed air traffic for a series of drone tests. Drone company Droprise flew a drone over and around the airport from an automatic loading and launching platform. VIVES operated the camera of this drone from Drone Dock in Ostend. Simultaneously, a drone commissioned by skeyes took to the air. Afterwards, a cargo drone carrying a package up to 40 kg flew over the airport. All activities were monitored in real time from the control room, with SkeyDrone’s detection equipment recording and coordinating all flights.

Sustainable Future

In a few years, air traffic control for the Flemish regional airports will be managed from a single digital control tower. In this tower, air traffic controllers will receive airport images via cameras on masts in an external control room. The drone flight commissioned by skeyes identified the location to place a mast with cameras to send images to this digital tower. “Since 2016, Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport and skeyes have joined forces for the further development of the airport. Several steps have been taken since then. With the integration of the drone detection system and the identification of the mast location for the digital tower, Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport has made significant progress,” says Johan Decuyper, CEO of skeyes. “This demonstrates that the airport is ready to face the challenges of a modern regional airport with a clear vision.”

 
About the International Airport Kortrijk-Wevelgem

Kortrijk-Wevelgem International Airport has an enviable reputation as a fast, flexible and remarkably accessible business airport. Its compact size makes it extraordinarily flexible and efficient when it comes to satisfying travellers’ needs especially when you consider its central location in Europe and the international reach of the region.

About POM West-Vlaanderen

Pom West-Vlaanderen is an independent agency that implements the socio-economic policy of the province. It strengthens entrepreneurship by encouraging collaboration between businesses and their organizations, knowledge institutions, regional policy bodies, and social partners to create a sustainable, innovative, and internationally oriented economic fabric.

About skeyes

skeyes ensures the safety and efficiency of air traffic in Belgium 24/7. The skeyes air traffic controllers manage over 3,000 aircraft every day, which makes up over a million flight movements per year. The autonomous public company is active at the heart of Europe, in one of the busiest and most complex sections of airspace of the continent. skeyes is active at Brussels Airport and at the airports of Antwerp, Charleroi, Kortrijk, Liège and Ostend. The company relies on its nearly 900 experienced staff members who are at the service of their customers: airline companies, airports, the aviation sector and the authorities.

About SkeyDrone

SkeyDrone is a joint venture between the Belgian Air Navigation Service Provider skeyes and Brussels Airport Company. The company’s mission is to provide end-to-end solutions for business needs related to the use of uncrewed aircraft (drones). SkeyDrone offers solutions for lower airspace monitoring, management of and protection against drones for authorities and geo-zone managers, UTM/U-space & consultancy services for drone operators and business integration services for companies. Playing a pivotal role in the implementation of U-space in Belgium, SkeyDrone is on track to make history by becoming one of the first U-space service providers in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

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