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Digital Skies Cleared for Take-Off

01/07/2022 A European consortium coordinated by Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) in Shannon has been approved by the EU to develop a ‘Digital Sky Demonstrator’, for aerial Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems.

The research project, known as ‘EALU-AER’, will see FMCI and its consortium partners conduct engineering work at the FMCI facility to develop, deploy and optimise Europe’s unmanned flight ecosystem.  

The three-year project involves Irish and European partners including Shannon Group, the Irish Aviation Authority, Collins Aerospace (Ireland and France), Dublin-based Avtrain, and Deepblue in Italy.

Work will be based at FMCI’s Advanced Aerial Mobility Research Test and Development Facilities at Shannon, but will include a network of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) routes across Ireland.

FMCI sees this project as ground-breaking new research and a  major vote of confidence in Ireland’s resourcing of advanced air mobility development, and in the industry operators and expertise present locally.

The consortium received a three-year funding award from the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking (JU) to develop unmanned aviation business opportunities in Ireland, in a collaborative research project that will also support modernisation of air traffic management in Europe.

The SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking is a European partnership of private and public-sector entities, established to accelerate delivery of the Digital European Sky through research and innovation.

The new funding will be deployed to build an end-to-end ecosystem that supports safe operation of unmanned flights, to help both conventional and unmanned aircraft safely integrate operations.

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FMCI couldn’t be more pleased to be working with this consortium on the implementation of the EALU-AER programme. This will result in developing and building-out the critical infrastructure to allow advanced air mobility proliferate across Europe.  It will secure access to airspace for large numbers of drones and eVTOL aircraft, resulting in safe, cost-effective and sustainable transport of freight and people in the future” says Russell Vickers, CEO of Future Mobility Campus Ireland.

Welcoming the funding announcement under the CEF for Transport programme, CEO of Shannon Group, Mary Considine said: “This is exciting initiative in unpiloted aviation management.  Shannon Group is delighted to partner on the EALU-AER project and enable this important research and development to take place on the Shannon Campus.  Shannon Airport has been at the forefront of innovation over many decades, and it is essential that we help facilitate and participate in developing the new technology and processes that will allow unpiloted aviation to integrate with legacy airspace.”

This award will help us work with our partners in Ireland to create a new industry that supports safe and connected unmanned flight,” says Boe Svatek, Unmanned Systems Value Stream Leader for Collins Aerospace. “As a founding member of the SESAR 3 JU, Collins Aerospace is actively and practically supporting its quest to modernise European air traffic management.”

The new research and development will significantly accelerate the advent of the drone and the urban air mobility economy, according to the consortium.

Un-manned Aerial Systems (UAS) are expected to have a profound socio-economic impact across Europe, with extensive business, public services and social applications.

Dublin-based Avtrain is Europe's leading drone pilot and operator training and certification organisation, and is proud to be part of the new industry collaboration, says the Avtrain CEO, Julie Garland. We are entering a new era of innovation where the success of the industry will depend on the integration of unmanned aircraft into our airspace, rather than the segregation of airspace.  “We look forward to working with Collins Aerospace, FMCI, Shannon Group and our partners in the project to move the industry to the next level” the CEO of Avtrain commented.

Funded by Enterprise Ireland and industry partners, the unique FMCI campus at Shannon was selected as home to the unmanned flight ecosystem development project, on account of its state-of-the-art digital framework facilities and facilities, including a recently developed Advanced Air Mobility Hub.

FMCI has already worked with Skyports, Avtrain, Shannon Group and Federal Express trialling freight delivery services using autonomous, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations.
 

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