Spanish UAS test centre opens

Spanish UAS test centre opens


The president of Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, has inaugurated today the Atlas Flight Test Centre, Spain’s first facility exclusively devoted to testing technologies and light unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and the the Europe’s first centre specifically designed to research and development activities of this kind of technologies.

This centre, located at Villacarrillo (Jaén), will offer the international aerospace community the first permanent technological-scientific facility to safely perform tests, simulations and validation of technologies to be applied to this kind of aircraft and its performance in the airspace.

The president of Junta de Andalucía has pointed out that this is about a strategic project for the Andalusian Aerospace sector, as it will be positioned at the cutting edge of one of the world’s most promising sub-sectors, and which also represents one of the focus for research and development of new military and civil technologies at an international level.

In addition, she has highlighted that it will encourage the industrial activity on UAVs which is increasingly being developed within the region thanks to a variety of enterprises, as well as it will allow incorporate Jaén to the Andalusian aerospace hub, which constitutes today the second Spanish region in terms of turnover and employment within this industry.

In the course of the opening ceremony, Díaz has been accompanied by the regional minister of Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment, José Sánchez Maldonado; the Spanish government representative in Jaén, Juan Lillo; the president of the County Council of Jaén, Francisco Reyes; the mayor of Villacarrillo, Juan Gilabert; the general director of the IDEA Agency and the president of  FADA, Antonio Valverde; the general director of FADA-CATEC, Juan Pedro Vela; and the director of the ATLAS Centre, Anastasio Sánchez, as well as a number of Spanish and Andalusian prime aerospace players who joined in to mark the occasion.

ATLAS has been fostered by the Regional Ministry of Economy, Innovation, Sciencie and Employment, trough the Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies and the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA), with an investment of 4.5 million euros, cofunded by the Andalusia ERDF Operational Programme 2007-2013.

Thanks to this facility, Junta de Andalucía intends to equip the region with the most advanced proposal for testing UAVs in Europe, as this centre is completed with another facility devoted to testing large unmanned aerial vehicles, named CEUS, which will be located at El Arenosillo premises (in Moguer, Huelva).

Unique centre to test UAVs
The goal of ATLAS is to offer facilities of excellence for testing activities and technological validations to prime international aerospace companies and entities. In fact, ATLAS has already an agreement of collaboration with Boeing Research & Technology-Europe (BR&T-Europe), the European Boeing Centre dedicated to R&D, so they can use the facility and perform their own flight tests.

Thus, the centre will play an important role when validating new technologies to be applied to civil operations such as the management of natural disasters, fires and environmental accidents, ground and se traffic surveillance, communications, meteorology, environment protection, support to agriculture and forest applications, air photography, cinematography, cartography and defence, security and civil protection applications.

ATLAS is located in Herrera within the town of Villacarrillo (Jaen). This site excels at being airspace with a location, climatology and orography ideally suited to the development of experimental flights with unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Centre has an aerodrome equipped with a main runway of 800 meters and an auxiliary grass runway of 400 meters, a platform and a building to plan and monitor the missions (air traffic control tower with approach radar, communications room, etc.) and services (space for offices, etc.). The centre will also have two independent hangars with room for MRO shopfloors and other logistic-technical premises as well as segregated airspace of over 1,000 kilometres.

The centre will be devoted to study how to improve unmanned aerial vehicles’ capabilities and test their efficiency in the air. In particular, ATLAS will carry out operations with light and tactical UAVs and will validate navigation technologies, aircraft monitoring as well as new techniques, tests, certifications for unmanned aerial vehicles and qualification of pilots, operators and MRO mechanics for this kind of aerial systems.