Cologne (dpa) – According to an aviation expert, drones will be on the move over long distances in Germany in just a few years. “Drone technology is advancing in five to ten years, operations outside of the pilot’s view should be common,” said the chairman of the European Helicopter Association (EHA), Peter Möller, of the dpa in Cologne.
This involves, for example, inspection flights along railway lines, water and gas lines, electricity highways as well as factories, power stations and wind farms. Have been using helicopters so far. In addition, the drone search for missing people is likely to move on to the agenda as well as supply flights from the mainland to islands, for example for drugs, i.e. the assessment of capabilities.
This Tuesday, the three-day “European Rotors” trade fair begins in Cologne with around 150 exhibitors. These include helicopter companies, but also drone providers – such as Avy Drones from Belgium, Dufour Aerospace from Switzerland or Airial Robotics from Germany. In addition to the EHA association, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is co-organizer of the fair. The EU authority based in Cologne is responsible for the rules and regulations for all European aviation, including the approval and use of unmanned aircraft.
According to the Association for Unmanned Aviation, there are around 430,000 drones in use in Germany, most of which are small missiles for private purposes. A good tenth of the drones are used in the private sector – this market segment has recently seen strong growth. However, the vast majority of professional drones only fly within sight of the remote pilot: Flights out of sight are only possible in the experimental stage – in technical jargon such missions are called “Beyond Visual Line of Sight” (BVLOS).
From Möller’s point of view, there are two reasons why such flights are not yet the norm. On the one hand, the flight duration of the drones must be increased so that commercial use is worthwhile. On the other hand, it must be technically guaranteed that. A drone can detect a helicopter and other aircraft and automatically avoid them. Corresponding signals should be sent and also received by the other aircraft. “So far, manned and unmanned air traffic has not yet been able to high-pressure each other – this requires technologies that the industry is helping to develop,” says Möll.
BVLOS drone tests are currently announced in advance and then part of the airspace is blocked. However, this is too time-consuming for regular regular operation over long stretches.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 211116-99-13674 / 3