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ROTORCRAFT ASIA 2019
Deals were in short supply at the show, but several companies
announced plans for both the rotor sector and the drone sector.
Indonesia’s Whitesky Aviation said it planned to form a partnership
in Bali this year “to explore opportunities” for its Helicity market
offering. The company ’s Helicity Air Transport is aimed at groups
seeking transport support for their businesses. Whitesky operates
Bell 429 and Airbus 130 helicopters and has ordered 30 Bell 505s.
US-based unmanned systems provider Volans-I said it will begin
performing beyond visual line-of-site (BVLOS) package delivery
flights in Singapore at the end of April, as part of a two-year pro-
ject with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). Volans-I
opened its Singapore office in 2017 as part of a wider effort to expand
into the region. Showcasing its range of unmanned systems in Asia
for the first time, the company will initially use a multirotor UAS for
phase one of the project, before transitioning at a later date to the
larger C-10 VTOL platform.
Air taxi provider Volocopter plans to start trials in Singapore by
the third quarter. CEO Florian Reuter said at the show that the trials
are supported by public and private entities including the CAAS
and ST Engineering. Meant to complement existing transport sys-
tems, the air taxi solution is similar to a ride-hailing platform, where
passengers can access the service via a booking app. Each aircraft
flies two persons for a distance of less than 30km, and is powered
by nine battery packs and 18 overhead propellers. While the aircraft
can be manoeuvred autonomously, initial public flights will be oper-
ated with a certified pilot. Reuter said the starting cost of each trip
will be higher than regular taxi fares, but in the long run the pricing
of Volocopter rides can be comparable to their land counterparts.
Tan Chun Wei, deputy director, transformation programmes,
CAAS, confirmed that the test flights will be conducted in the south-
ern region of Singapore and over water. Reuter said that discussions
with involved parties could open up cross-border routes to popular
nearby destinations such as Johor and Bintan.
Meanwhile, JTC and the Association of Aerospace Industries
Singapore (AAIS) announced that they will provide indoor test
beds within Seletar Aerospace Park for commercial applications
of unmanned aircraft systems. Indoor spaces housed within JTC’s
high-rise developments at Seletar Aerospace Park will provide a safe
and controlled environment for companies to conduct development
trials and customer demonstrations, they said in a media statement.
Implementation details are being worked out and companies that
are keen to use these spaces can approach AAIS to register their
interest. AAIS chief executive Sia Kheng Yok said UAS is finding ap-
plications in smart cities, security, agriculture, mining, construction
and resource management. He also announced the formation of the
Singapore UAS Community to support the industry.
Urban and infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong and drone
start-up AeroLion Technologies have partnered to develop un-
manned aerial vehicle technologies, or drone solutions, for built and
natural environments. Under a memorandum of understanding, the
partners will develop UAV solutions for projects like land reclama-
tion, workplace safety and fault detection in enclosed areas such
as buildings and tunnels.
Luxaviation Helicopters, part of the Luxaviation Group, said at the
show that Philippines-based helicopter charter operator PhilJets has
joined as the latest member of the Luxaviation Helicopters Charter
Alliance. The integration of PhilJets into the Alliance will provide
members with VIP helicopter charter access in the Asia-Pacific region.
Airbus announced earlier this year that it has begun shore-to-ship
trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone. This marks
the first time drone technology has been deployed in real port con-
ditions, to deliver a variety of small, time-critical maritime essentials
to working vessels at anchorage.
The maiden shore-to-ship delivery flight was made to the Swire
Pacific Offshore’s Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessel M/V Pacific
Centurion, 1.5km from the shoreline of Singapore’s Marina South
Pier, carrying 1.5kg of 3D printed consumables. Landing safely on the
ship deck and depositing its cargo to the shipmaster, the Skyways
unmanned air vehicle returned to its base, with the entire flight
taking within 10 minutes.
The trials are being undertaken in conjunction with partner Wil-
helmsen Ships Services, one of the world’s leading maritime logistics
and port services company. During the trials, Airbus’ Skyways drone
will lift off from the pier with a payload capability of up to 4kg, and
navigate autonomously along pre-determined ‘aerial corridors’ to
vessels as far as 3km from the coast.
◀ Airbus announced earlier that it has begun shore-to-ship trials in
Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone.
▶ Air taxi provider Volocopter plans to start trials in Singapore by the
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