NAC UAV facilities expanded
West Wales Airport and Newquay Cornwall Airport have formed a partnership that will supply the UK Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry with additional capacity for UAS flight operations. The agreement between the sites is the first extension of the National Aeronautical Centre (NAC) brand beyond Wales.
This latest development for the NAC will provide the UK with a greatly increased resource for international aeronautical development, making the centre a vital asset to accommodate the needs of the UAV community.
Supported by West Wales Airport at the operational level, through the integration of its unique UAS management system, Newquay Cornwall Airport will provide NAC users with flying facilities from its 2,744m runway into restricted airspace as well as fully serviced accommodation on a short, medium or long term basis through its Aerohub.
Currently, regulation requires that the flying of unmanned aircraft beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) must be carried out in airspace that is segregated from other air users. This restriction will apply until their flight management systems can be clearly demonstrated to be at least equally as safe as manned aircraft and international standards are established. The now extended specialised operating environment at the NAC has been purposely constructed to support UAS operating companies to meet these criteria.
The NAC offers development and evaluation facilities, as well as a platform for companies to demonstrate their products to customers and train their operators. It is also a forum where operators can work together to demonstrate confidence in their systems with the regulatory authorities; so move towards an ability to operate in non-restricted airspace to deliver services aimed at achieving sales and profits.
West Wales Airport, located at Aberporth, is the key component of the NAC. The airfield offers segregated airspace extending inland 40nm miles to the east, covering an area of 499 square miles. The airspace is only activated when required, and subject to stringent safety requirements, regulated by both the Civil and the Military Aviation Authorities.
Ray Mann, managing director of West Wales Airport and architect of the NAC commented: ‘I am delighted with the inclusion of Newquay Cornwall Airport to the NAC. It provides a perfect addition to the unique facilities operating in West Wales and is already well equipped to support new as well as existing customers including MoD, Thales UK and Selex Galileo.
‘Our combined resources and flight management capability is now by far the best placed to supply both civilian and military customers with world class facilities that will offer them the easiest and quickest access to an as yet untapped, multi-billion dollar unmanned systems market.’
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