Airbus Helicopters and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to conduct unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) proof-of-concept trials, named the Skyways Project, in Singapore.
The project aims to develop an airborne infrastructure solution to address the sustainability and efficiency of parcel deliveries in large, urban environments. This infrastructure will be operated as an integrated system comprising the following main components: safe and secure aerial corridors, unmanned aircraft and an operations management system of the fleet, automated parcel stations, and an overall communication system.
This project covers two separate trials, which will be implemented in two phases:
- Airbus has begun work with the National University of Singapore (NUS) on the planning and development of the first trial. It entails the establishment of a parcel stations network on the NUS campus. This network will enable users to send important items, such as documents, via UAS to other parts of the campus. It also serves as a supply and distribution interface for suppliers across Singapore to deliver their goods via UAS to customers across the NUS campus.
- Following the success of the first trial, the project may extend to a second trial. This will cover the delivery of goods such as urgent medicine, oil samples and spare electronic parts from a parcel station located at the Singapore coast to ships anchored at bay.
Airbus intends to set up a special purpose company in Singapore to conduct the Skyways Project and prepare for the next steps. Commercialization plans that could be derived from the project will be executed from Singapore.
This UAS application initiative is led by Airbus and facilitated by the interagency UAS committee, chaired by the ministry of transport for Singapore. The UAS committee was set up early last year to encourage the use of UAS to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of agencies’ operations. The committee had facilitated UAS trials by public agencies, as well as private-sector companies.
“We need to prepare for the greater use of unmanned aircraft in our urban environment to help address the new and future needs of our society. We want to facilitate their use by industry and the public sector and also hobbyists, but we must, at the same time, ensure that the regulatory regime keeps apace with these changes to enable such uses, whilst ensuring public and aviation safety and security,” says Kevin Shum, director-general of CAAS.