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Finland launches new research centre for drone and UAM operations

The LIFT Future Aerospace Centre started its operations in Finland at the beginning of September 2022, bringing together actors from the private, public and R&D sectors to create new aviation innovations in response to the growing demand.

According to a statement on the VTT government aeronautical research agency website:

“The partners joining the innovation cluster with the host organisation Redstone AERO Oy include VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk) and the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute FGI. The cooperation is aimed at strengthening research, development and innovation collaboration (RDI) in future aviation, while supporting the emergence of new business within the field in Finland. Redstone AERO has built a future aerospace research centre at the Helsinki-East Aerodrome, which will provide the facilities for the RDI needs. This will contribute building a strong innovation ecosystem together with relevant partners.”

“The use of UAS in civil solutions and applications for authorities has grown rapidly. However, increasing the use on a large scale will not be possible before the operations of unmanned aviation can be safely integrated with traditional manned aviation. Finland has excellent opportunities and competence to join the development of this future industry,” said Tomi Oravasaari, Director of the RDI unit of NELI (North European Logistics Institute) at Xamk, quoted by VTT.

“The LIFT Future Aerospace Centre will further strengthen the sector and RDI, as the aerodrome environment is transforming into an excellent testbed, providing an improved framework for the activities,” Oravasaari said. “The LIFT network cooperation and the aerodrome environment provide excellent support for Xamk’s applied research, which develops methods for coordinating current manned aviation and drone flight operations in a safety-oriented manner and creates practical solutions for long-distance drone flights between various airports. This paves the way for the emergence of commercial solutions for drone logistics, among other things”.

“One of the key competence areas of the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) is spatial data research related to drones, which plays a key role in the development of autonomous and low-emission aviation applications of the future. In research, we are developing more efficient, accurate and reliable methods for both localisation and navigation of drones and data analysis than we have today,” said Research Professor Eija Honkavaara from the FGI, again quoted on the website. The National Land Survey of Finland also carries out significant mapping, aerial photography and laser scanning activities, with both its own equipment and through commissioning the data acquisition from consultants.”

The Helsinki-East Aerodrome area will act as a prototype for efficiently operating a new kind of an aerodrome. “Future air traffic and on-demand transport services will need a much denser airport network than we have today. At LIFT, we are developing a concept that allows airports to be planned, built, licensed and operated more efficiently than before. We call the new model by the name digital airport,” said Esa Korjula, Chairman of the Board of Redstone AERO, the company operating the Helsinki-East Aerodrome.

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