First pilot application of Waterairport safety inspection in Greece by utilising Drones

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On Monday, November 21, the Governor of the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA), Dr Christos Tsitouras, met with the head of the General Aviation & Drones Department, Mr Diamantakos Konstantinos, and a delegation of the Consortium of the European-funded project 5D-AeroSafe, which is coordinated by “Airbus” and Eurocontrol is a member of it. The representatives of the consortium, including Mr George Bogdos (Technical Manager of the project and CTO of the company “Future Intelligence”), Mr Tasos Govas (President of the company  “Greek Water Airports”), and Mrs Fay Drakopoulou (Executive Administrative Assistant of the company  “Greek Water Airports”), briefed HCAA on the progress of the project and the innovations that 5D-AeroSafe brings to Greece in the fields of security and management of Drones in complex environments such as waterairports, airports and ports.

The 5D–AeroSafe project, which was selected by the European Union’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), has as its primary objective the application of innovative technologies to maximize aviation safety, offering drone inspection capabilities for airports, air navigation systems of civil aviation, as well as a unique solution for waterairports.

The project’s innovative solution is applied for the first time on a European scale. Using Drone technologies and Artificial Intelligence techniques, the final product will be an integrated waterairport management system that will maximize the safety of seaplane landing and take-off, reduce the administrative costs of waterairport operation, and provide waterairports operators with a comprehensive situational awareness tool.

The project consortium is coordinated by the French company “Airbus,” while the Greek companies “Future Intelligence” and “Greek Water Airports” and the “Hellenic Mediterranean University” are heavily involved. “ENAC” from France, “ITWL” from Poland, “Vicomtech” from Spain, “Airmap” from Germany, and “Ferrovial” from Spain, the second end user of the project, are also members of the consortium. Eurocontrol participates as a consultant and observer in the consortium.

The consortium will collaborate closely with HCAA, which will define the necessary regulatory procedures to ensure that all conditions are met for the successful execution of the pilots. It is anticipated that the project’s developments will significantly contribute to the safety of waterairport and airport operations, while expanding the field of emerging and innovative services in the field of air navigation (U-Space Services).

Following the meeting, Dr Christos Tsitouras, Governor of the HCAA, stated: “The HCAA has a favourable opinion of the European project 5D-AeroSafe, as the operation of Drones will be a valuable cutting-edge technology tool that will significantly contribute to the safe operation of waterairports and airports. In this context, HCAA is launching a series of initiatives in collaboration with EASA to establish the necessary legislative and regulatory framework for the safe operation of drones.”

The President of “Greek Water Airports” Mr Tasos Govas stated, “We sincerely thank the Governor of HCAA, Mr Tsitouras, and Mr Diamantakos for this constructive meeting. The primary objective of the European program “5D-AEROSAFE” is the application of innovative technologies using drones, which will, among other things, increase the safety of seaplane landing  and take- off. As the first Greek company to operate waterairports in Greece, “Greek Water Airports” supports and participates in initiatives that enhance the operational environment of waterairports for the benefit of their users “.

The meeting mentioned above with HCAA was a follow-up to the consortium’s validation of the 5D-AeroSafe project’s technical solution during a three-day meeting held in Corfu on November 17, 18, and 19. The meeting was hosted and organized by Greek Water Airports”  one of the project’s end users.

In the coming period, the consortium will begin solution deployment and test flights in an effort to construct the final demonstrator for the Corfu waterairport, the airport in Rhodes, and other European airports.

Statements of Consortium representatives

Mr Philippe Chrobocinski (Consortium Coordinator and “Airbus Defense and Space” executive of the research and development department of large systems) stated, “Preliminary tests conducted in Poland in September and in Corfu in November validated the main technical components of the 5D-AeroSafe project, namely the drone inspection system, the image analysis to detect defects, and the 5D-AeroSafe platform that defines the missions and deconflicts them with the aerial activities. The next step will be to integrate all these components in accordance with the requirements of the end-users from waterairports and airports, so that the system can be used operationally by individuals who are neither drone nor IT experts.”

Mr George Bogdos (Technical Manager of the project and Chief Technology Officer of “Future Intelligence”) stated, “The consortium’s focus for the next period will be on tests and demonstrations under real-world conditions. Through close collaboration with the HCAA, all conditions necessary for the seamless integration of the technology at the operational level will be discussed and ensured, with a focus on ensuring the highest level of safety for Drone flights in such complex environments as ports and airports. Various tests will be conducted in order to organize a first demonstration event in Corfu in late spring, a second in Rhodes in early autumn, and a third at an airport in October. The purpose of these three tests and demonstrations is to validate the end user’s interest in the system as well as its performance compared to more conventional inspection techniques currently in use.”

Mr Georgios Nikolouzos (Station Manager of the Corfu Waterairport and representative of the company  “Greek Water Airports” ) stated: “Since our meeting in June here in Corfu, significant progress has been made in the project, which pleases us not only as an active partner in 5D-AeroSafe, but also as a potential end user of the capabilities that the final product will be able to offer in ensuring the safe and smooth operation of the waterairports.

We are confident that the application of cutting-edge technologies to the inspection of the land and/or water facilities will provide multiple stakeholders with the desired outcomes more quickly and accurately at a lower cost. Ultimately, we will establish Corfu and its port as a pioneering facility for the use of unmanned aerial systems in our nation and beyond.”

Dr Evangelos Markakis (Senior Researcher in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Hellenic Mediterranean University – HMU) stated, “HMU is actively involved in Horizon research projects focusing on Public Safety and the operation of Critical Infrastructures. Our participation in 5D-Aerosafe enables us to update our courses with cutting-edge information, which supports our efforts to adopt a student-centered philosophy. Our expertise in human-machine interaction along with the protection and operation of critical infrastructures simplifies the use of airport surveillance systems while introducing for the first time in Europe waterairport inspection systems.”



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