Civilian Centre for Operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems

EGD202 Complex chart

Today saw the launch of the world’s first private facility for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) that will enable operations in civilian airspace from the National Aeronautical Centre (NAC), created through a partnership between West Wales Airport and Newquay Cornwall Airport, which is also home of the Aerohub Enterprise Zone.

Launched in London, at an exclusive industry event hosted at the Royal Society, the NAC enables the development, testing, evaluation, training and demonstration of UAS that can fly beyond visual line of sight. The centre is open to civilian and military contractors and operators and has the capacity to deliver the necessary services and accommodation for all sizes of UAS envisaged for production and development over the next 20 years.

Richard Deakin, Chief Executive Officer of NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic services, delivered a keynote speech at the launch, introducing the NAC, which will provide the UK with an ability to capitalise on what is recognised by the global aerospace community as one of the world’s major economic opportunities.

Commenting on the launch, Ray Mann, Head of the NAC, said: “The launch of the NAC is a further step towards developing a UK based UAS capability that can operate in a competitive global market place. Confidence surrounding UAS continues to grow and we can’t afford to be left behind.”

“This is an opportunity for the UK to lead the way – Together, West Wales Airport and Newquay Cornwall Airport are committed to being at the forefront of developments in this sector and we hope our vision will deliver rewards. We need to ensure that some current perceptions of civilian use of UAS don’t hinder the UK’s ability to capitalise on this exciting opportunity for economic growth.”

Al Titterington, Managing Director of Newquay Cornwall Airport commented: “The global aerospace market is forecast to be worth four trillion dollars (US) by 2030, yet the UK is currently forecast to see just 10% of this investment. The UK aerospace industry has a major opportunity in the UAS market but first it must develop, demonstrate and prove that systems and sub-systems can contribute to ensuring safe and reliable operations, whilst being properly regulated.”

“The creation of the NAC has given the UK a world unique, national asset, where the development of new aerospace technologies, in the form of UAS, is now being undertaken. We are excited about announcing this launch in partnership with West Wales Airport.”

Richard Deakin, Chief Executive Officer of NATS, said: “NATS has been controlling UAS’ for 40 years. We hold some of the world’s most respected experts in unmanned flight management and have been instrumental in developing and validating the procedures for unmanned flights in UK airspace.

“The NAC is a fundamental facility for growth in this industry and NATS is delighted to be involved in this launch as well as in future projects and commercial opportunities.”

The value of the UAS market has been forecast to be £30 billion per year by 2020 in the military sector alone. With the creation of the NAC, the UK is currently better placed than most others to create significant and sustainable economic benefit from this new industry, both from the military and civilian marketplace.”