“Whether we consider it from the commercial, industrial, entertainment, advertising, science, emergency response, or other uses, drones, technically referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), have come to be a critical part of our everyday lives.
“This is simply because of its limitless potential to demystify hitherto logistical challenges we have been encountering in the distribution of goods from one place to another.”
This was the position of the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu, while speaking on the topic, ‘The future of commercial cargo drones from the airport operators’ perspective’ at the 2nd Drone Technology Expo and Conference held at the NIGAV Expo Center at the Murtala Muhammed Airport.
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, he said was “not shy of embracing technology and we are at the forefront of collaboration with the likes of FCI International, the promoter of this innovation, through DRONETECX and we are prepared to continue to work with relevant and well-meaning organisations to advancing the future of travel in a safe and seamless manner.
Making his speech at the conference which was organised by Mr Fortune Idu, Yadudu, while describing the airport as the pillar of air transportation where passengers and cargo access the aircraft, however, declared that drone at this moment of development was prohibitive in the airport airspace largely because of security and safety reasons and the conflict within the controlled airspace.
“The autonomous technology in flight is still under evolution however developing at an astronomical speed that in the next few years DRONE will redefine what we presently understand as flight. Currently, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has a committee set up for the advancement of this likely future alternative in flight and the regulations and harmonisation with security agencies in most countries is being worked upon to allow safe operation. At present, the regulatory environment for universal application of UAV into the controlled airspace is not ready,” he said.
According to the FAAN MD, most aircraft manufacturers and airlines were already creating UAS unit to begin to look at the future relevance of their operation vis-a-vis drone technology and the autonomous which he said did not make the airport’s position different in this regard.
Revealing how DHL and other logistics support services were keenly working on the potential of delivery with drones, Yadudu added that the delivery drones market was poised to grow at a CAGR of 12 per cent by 2027. Factors driving the delivery drones market are increased demand for drone delivery services saying, “The main aircraft cargo market will not change significantly because autonomous only means eliminating the pilot and that will not affect the cargo market. It will only improve safety.
“The full-scale autonomous cargo aircraft will come with an adaptation of the airport system to work with the highly sensitive sensors of UAS technology. Also, the regular aircraft will be equipped to interact effectively without accidents and incidents with unmanned systems. The future is possible but work is still ongoing.”
In the realm of airport development for drones as vehicles for both passengers and cargo, the FAAN chief said the potential was currently being experimented with as a solution for urban mobility.
“This is the concept of drone ports in the city. This solution will provide vital landing ports for air taxis or drones carrying passengers and cargo for short-haul travel. A recent development by Urban-Air Port limited called Airport One for such airports for vertical landing aircraft was launched in the Coventry United Kingdom this year, demonstrating the potential and possibility of miniature city airports. The success of this lunch has introduced a completely new dimension to cargo, passengers and drone relationships which bring the perceptive of the airport in this case to realisation.
“In the future to come, airport operators will be looking at this potential which will reduce the cost of the required infrastructure for huge airports but will have a multiplicity of airports in the city. While this is being envisaged, unmanned cargo-carrying aircraft is possible but still far. It is, therefore, my conclusion that with technology the sky is just the beginning.”
“The airport is a very important development facility and enabler of the economy, the future of airports is assured in all cases no matter which way the aircraft future develops, there will always be the need to carry huge cargo and mass transport of people over a great distance at speed and the airport will always be the takeoff and the landing place for the aircraft. It will only require adaptation to new operational guidelines, technologies and customer services requirements.”
Source: Nigeria Tribune