British drone operator, Dronamics, has identified three regional airports in Germany at which to base its drones and set up a network. These are Rostock-Laage, Paderborn-Lippstadt, and Weeze. However, it is currently open as to when flight activities will begin.
Lippstadt-Paderborn Managing Director, Marc Cezanne sees drones as an additional field of activity to generate business for his airport. “The Dronamics people knocked on our doors and we decided to support their concept of establishing a drone hub at our airport,” the manager states when CargoForwarder Global inquired about the move. However, for the time being, the launch of the first UAV carrying cargo from Lippstadt to Weeze or other locations in the heavily populated North Rhine-Westphalia region, is still a long way off. That is because the legal aviation approval is still pending and, without this, commercial drone flights are not permitted. Mr. Cezanne estimates that the approval process might take up to 2 years. The same goes for the other two airports that Dronamics names as future launching sites in its announcement.
80% less greenhouse gas emissions
Yet perhaps things will develop faster. “Dronamics flights will be filed for operational authorization under the EU’s unified drone regulations that are in force since 01JAN21,” the company states, though the managers do not mention a precise date for the initial flight that would kick off the entire European network.
Dronamics intends to operate its own “Black Swan” cargo drones, each offering a capacity of up to 350 kg to be flown over distances of nearly 2,500 km. Compared to traditional cargo transports, this reduces costs and lowers emissions by up to 80%, according to the Dronamics management.
Growing network, but only on paper up to now
The 3 German sites mentioned in the company’s release have been deliberately chosen: They are airports with little commercial air traffic, so drones and passenger or cargo aircraft would not get in each other's way, despite their spatial operational separation. Two of them are located in proximity to Germany’s industrial heartland (Lippstadt + Weeze), while drones based in Rostock could connect to the city’s nearby harbor in the Baltic Sea.
The new sites complement Dronamic’s European Droneport Network consisting of 38 airports in 12 European countries. At least on paper, because the droneport concept is only a declaration of intent so far, and does not yet exist operationally. This should change in 2022, when the first commercial flights of the same-day drone cargo services are expected to begin.
As part of the agreements, Dronamics will base its standardized droneport equipment on site, and hire and train local staff to operate and handle the unmanned drone flights.
Tapping into new cargo services
Thanks to Dronamics, “we see the opportunity to pioneer an entirely new service that can significantly benefit the local economy and tap into the potential of unmanned cargo aviation by hosting one of the first droneports in Germany,” enthuses MD Sebastian Pabst of Airport Weeze.
A similar comment is delivered by Stefan Mauel (Key Account Manager German Airports) from DFS Aviation Services. “We are welcoming our future collaboration with Dronamics in assisting their operations at the German regional airports.”
Market analysts say that the positive reactions of the airport managers to the Dronamics initiative are mainly forced by the sluggish passenger traffic that trickled down long before Covid-19 broke out, leading to empty airport coffers. Seen from that background, the announced Dronamics network comes as a gift and as symbol of hope for better days ahead.
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