Airbus Helicopters (Airbus) 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 MOU was signed between Jean-Brice Dumont, Executive Vice-President, Engineering, Airbus Helicopters and Kevin Shum, Director-General of CAAS at the side lines of Singapore Air Show today, and was witnessed by Tom Enders,
Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Group and Pang Kin Keong, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Transport, Singapore.
The Skyways Experimentation Project aims to develop an airborne infrastructure solution to address the sustainability and efficiency of parcel delivery business in large urban environments (“last mile” delivery). This infrastructure will be operated as an integrated system that comprises the following main components: safe and secure aerial corridors, Unmanned Aircraft (UA), operation management system of the UA fleet, automated parcel stations, as well as overall communication system.
This project covers two separate UAS 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 NUS campus. This network will enable users to send important and urgent items such as documents via an 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 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 to prepare for the next steps. Commercialisation plans that might be derived from the project will be executed from Singapore with Singapore as the Asia Pacific headquarters for this business.
This UAS application initiative is led by Airbus, and facilitated by the inter-agency UAS Committee, chaired by the Ministry of Transport, 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 UAS 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,” said Kevin Shum, Director-General of CAAS.
Jean-Brice Dumont, Executive Vice-President, Engineering, Airbus Helicopters, noted, “Airbus Helicopters’ expertise in vertical lift solutions puts us in the best position to turn UAS into a business reality while ensuring their safe operation in dense urban environments. Although many UAS services are already common today, efficient and reliable applications in the logistics industry are still in their early stages. Our vision is the seamless integration of UAS into logistics networks and daily life in a safe, secure and economically efficient manner. Airbus strongly believes in the viability of the ‘Skyways’ project which will help turn consumer services unimagined only a decade ago into a reality very soon.”
Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Deputy President for Research and Technology, said, “The National University of Singapore (NUS) is pleased to be working with the Airbus Group on this Skyways Project. Our researchers are currently in the early stages of developing the use case for the first phase of this Project which will be hosted on our campus. NUS researchers also plan to collaborate with Airbus on co-creating technology solutions to meet the Skyways system requirements for Flow, Capacity and Optimisation Management, as well as for Cybersecurity. NUS looks forward to contributing significantly to this exciting project over the next two years.”