European port leads the way in simultaneous drone flight testing


Following the trial round of a drone test flight at the DronePort in Belgium’s Sint-Truiden, partners involved in the project known as SAFIR – the “Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment” – are set to test simultaneous drone flights over Antwerp’s city centre and port on September 26.

The SAFIR consortium of partners – Amazon Prime Air, Aveillant, C-Astral, Drone Port, Elia, Explicit, Helicus, Port of Antwerp, Proximus, SABCA, Skeyes, Tekever and Unifly – tested the first simultaneous drone flights last week for package deliveries, inspection flights and emergency situations.

The SAFIR project is funded by the European Union (EU) and is seen as “a key element in the development of a digital nervous system through the Port of Antwerp”, says Erwin Verstraelen, the chief digital, information and innovation officer at the Port of Antwerp.

He adds that a live feed of the various port activities, thanks to a network of autonomous drones, is a useful tool for the entire port community.

“The combination of industry and logistics makes the port environment an excellent testing ground for the SAFIR project and other planned drone demonstrations.” 

The demonstrations carried out by the EU-funded project are expected to provide practical insights for the SESAR public-private partnership, which is the entity responsible for co-ordinating all EU air traffic management research and development activities.


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