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Netherlands to conduct BVLOS drone flights next year

Experiments will inform legislative and operational readiness efforts

Dutch research and development institution NLR – the Netherlands Aerospace Centre – has joined several governmental, industrial and academic institutions in a unique series of projected experiments aimed at making long distance flights by unmanned aircraft routine and safe. Partner organisations include the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (the project initiator), Delft University of Technology, Dronehub Groningen (a consortium of the Drenthe Provincial Government, Leeuwarden University of Applied Sciences and Omnidrones), UMCG Ambulancezorg and ANWB Medical Air Assistance. MT understands the Dutch armed forces and other European military bodies are likely to view this series of experiments with considerable interest in deriving lessons learned for so-called Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations.

The experimental flights will launch from the mainland town of Lauwersoog in March next year, carrying consignments of medicines to Schiermonnikoog in the West Frisian Islands, flying through closed airspace in which the drones may encounter manned aircraft. The preparation of these flights, according to NLR officials, will provide invaluable information on the technical, regulatory and operational aspects of BVLOS flights that will inform new legislation, safety regulations and operational best practices.

Tim Mahon



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