The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has signed an MoU with Airbus Helicopters to conduct a parcel delivery experiment in Singapore.
The signing took place at the Singapore Airshow on 17 February, with the proof-of-concept trials being labelled the Skyways Project.
A statement from the CAAS explained: ‘The Skyways Project aims to develop an airborne infrastructure solution to address the sustainability and efficiency of parcel delivery business in large urban environments.’
The scope of the experiment includes unmanned aircraft, safe aerial corridors, automated parcel stations, communication system and operation management system of the UAV fleet.
Kevin Shum, director-general of the CAAS commented: ‘We need to prepare for the greater use of unmanned aircraft in our urban environment to help address the new and future needs of our society.
‘We want to facilitate their use by industry and the public sector, and also hobbyists, but we must at the same time ensure that the regulatory regime keeps apace with these changes to enable such uses, whilst ensuring public and aviation safety and security.’
The trials will occur in two phases. The first sees Airbus working with the National University of Singapore (NUS) to establish parcel stations on the NUS campus. This network will allow users to despatch documents or other items around the campus, as well as suppliers across Singapore to deliver goods to the NUS.
The second phase may see the project extended to encompass deliveries of cargo such as medicine, oil samples and spare electronic parts from a parcel station on the Singapore coast to ships anchored at bay.
Airbus will set up a special company in Singapore to aid the Skyways Project. The company is leading the project, aided by an interagency UAS Committee that was set up in early 2015 to facilitate various UAV trials.
Jean-Brice Dumont, executive vice-president of engineering at Airbus Helicopters, said: ‘Airbus Helicopters’ expertise in vertical-lift solutions puts us in the best position to turn UAS into a business reality, while ensuring their safe operation in dense urban environments.’
He added, ‘Our vision is the seamless integration of UAS into logistics networks and daily life in a safe, secure and economically efficient manner. Airbus strongly believes in the viability of the Skyways project, which will help turn consumer services unimagined only a decade ago into a reality very soon.’
Should the parties decide to implement the project for commercial purposes in the future, this will be performed with Singapore as the Asia-Pacific headquarters.