Successful test flight with cargo drone for potential future offshore deployment

On Thursday morning, in the presence of the public, a small cargo drone took off from Den Helder for a flight to Texel and back again. This first drone flight from the mainland to Texel is an important milestone in the development and test phase of the Long Distance Cargo Drone Network project, which investigates the deployment of cargo drones to offshore installations.

The project, with cooperation partners AirHub, DHSS and Phoenix-Wings GmbH, is aimed at the transport of medicines and medical supplies, documents, tools and instruments to and from Offshore installations, while supporting the pursuit of climate neutrality.

DroneQ Robotics, in collaboration with AirHub in the Maritime Emerging & Enabling Technologies Innovation Park (METIP) project Long Distance Cargo Drone Network, carried out an important test on 18 August 2022 by delivering a water sample from Huisduinen to the NIOZ research centre on Texel with a cargo drone from Phoenix Wings. The primary goal was to test the connectivity systems and the self-developed camera systems.

The flight path

Prior to the 15 km long flight, coordination took place with the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT – CAA) and military air traffic control De Kooy, Den Helder and the necessary approvals were granted. The flight was first carried out in a flight simulator and the various emergency scenarios were tested in the simulator. Changing weather conditions such as strong wind, gusts, wind directions and precipitation are simulated. Only when it was determined that the flight could be carried out safely, the actual flight was pallend and carried out.

The 15-minute flight from the Huisduinen mainland to the Isle of Texel was flown entirely on 4G with a radio connection as a backup. The cargo drone landed on the NIOZ site on he Isle of Texel where the sample was received by NIOZ and the return cargo was loaded into the aircraft. This consisted of a so-called birdtag, a lightweight piece of ingenious electronics that NIOZ has developed to be able to track birds. By transporting by cargo drone, NIOZ was able to test the possibilities of the birdtag in a different way than usual.

Both flights went well and is an important step in the Long Distance Cargo Drone Delivery project. The next goal in the project is to organise pilot flights from Den Helder to the Offshore production platform L10-A of energy company Neptune Energy, located 65 km north-west of Den Helder.

Read more in the upcoming edition of Windpowernl magazine, to be released next month at WindEnergy Hamburg.

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