SkeyDrone upgrades Antwerp-Bruges Port Area to Unifly’s next-gen UTM system

Steenokkerzeel/Antwerpen, 5 February 2024 – SkeyDrone and Unifly proudly announce a significant upgrade to the Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ (PoAB) Uncrewed Traffic Management (UTM) System, DronePortal, a cutting-edge UTM application developed by Unifly. This upgrade enhances the efficiency of drone operations in the complex Port of Antwerp’s airspace and supports the expanded use of drone technology. Additionally, the upgraded services are now extended to include the Port of Bruges. This development is a crucial step in advancing the PoAB airspace towards U-space readiness.

Operational in the Antwerp Port area since mid-March 2021 and having processed over 5,000 flight authorizations, the PoAB DronePortal upgrade plays a pivotal role in the evolving U-space landscape. The latest improvements include optimized automated approvals, enhanced integration support with drone operations, and User Interface (UI)/User Experience (UX) enhancements, all based on the most recent Unifly product version.

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges is expected to become the first official U-space airspace in Europe, marking a significant milestone in uncrewed aerial operations. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges has become a hub for drone activities, hosting the highest volume of drone flights in Belgium. Beyond the D-Hive project that facilitates scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights, numerous drone operators fly within the same airspace for various purposes, further solidifying the port’s status as a key player in the drone ecosystem.

Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital Information & Innovation Officer, Port of Antwerp, states that “Embracing innovation is at the heart of our strategy, and this partnership with SkeyDrone and Unifly reaffirms our commitment to fostering a smart, connected, and future-ready port. Together, we’re shaping a new frontier in uncrewed aerial operations”.

According to Hendrik-Jan Van Der Gucht, Managing Director of SkeyDrone, “With this upgrade of the DronePortal, SkeyDrone is not only enhancing the user experience for drone operators but is also taking the next step towards U-space readiness, ensuring safe and seamless integration of uncrewed aerial vehicles in the European airspace”.

Andres Van Swalm, CEO of Unifly, commented, ” We are excited about the growing number of drone operators gearing up for autonomous flights. The recent system upgrade, extending support to the Port of Bruges and advancing PoAB towards U-Space readiness, is a significant milestone. The PoAB stands as a global exemplar of how drones can be seamlessly integrated into non-segregated airspace.”

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 all your business needs related to the use of uncrewed aircraft (drones). SkeyDrone offers solutions for lower airspace monitoring, management 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.

About Unifly

Unifly is a technology company rooted in aviation, which envisions to enable autonomous aviation by driving the technology to advance the safety and efficiency of autonomous aviation. The Unifly platform serves as a vital link between authorities, drone pilots, and various stakeholders, facilitating the safe integration of next-generation aircraft into the airspace. By digitizing and automating Traffic Management, and by integrating with drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), the platform is addressing the exponential growth in air traffic generated in the upcoming decades.

About Port of Antwerp-Bruges

With an overall throughput of 271 million tonnes per year, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a critical hub in worldwide trade and industry. The port is a crucial link for the handling of containers, breakbulk and for the throughput of vehicles. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is home to 1,400 companies and accommodates the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe. The port provides, directly and indirectly, a total of around 164,000 jobs and generates an added value of 21 billion euros.

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