New Arctic centre for UAS

New Arctic centre for UAS

January 6, 2015

The Arctic Centre for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which is a partnership between Norut, UiT The Arctic University of Norway and Lufttransport, was officially opened today.

“The Arctic Centre for Unmanned Aircraft Systems will be a national and international focal point in the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for emergency response and environmental monitoring in the Arctic,” says Rune Storvold, the Director of the new centre.

The new centre, which will be known by its Norwegian abbreviation ASUF, will also contribute to increased safety in connection with ambulance, rescue and police operations.

”This deals not least with the development of new and improved technologies and methods for remote sensing and climate and environment. ASUF will cooperate with commercial partners and lead the development of new activities and the civil drone industry in Norway,” says the CEO of Norut, Ivan C. Burkow.

He says this is an important initiative for Norut, and that it is now developing a technological research environment that is a world leader in its field.

New engineering programme
The educational aspect of the centre is important. A new engineering programme linked to the UAS operations will be established at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. This programme will have space for up to 20 students.

“ASUF will coordinate activities in the Arctic and, through its partners, train personnel who can operate unmanned aircraft systems in a safe manner. Through our partners, we will also contribute to the certification of pilots and UAS,” says Storvold.

The use of UAS for civilian purposes, such as mapping, research, emergency response and climate monitoring, is an industry experiencing rapid growth. Particularly in the Arctic, these aircrafts are extremely well suited given the long distances and the unique weather, light and environmental conditions, as well as the increasing international business activity.

Lufttransport important
Lufttransport AS says the company’s cooperation with the research and education environments in Tromsø and Northern Norway is important:

“By virtue of being a major supplier of surveillance, emergency preparedness and ambulance services with aircraft and helicopters, Lufttransport has a clear interest in regulated forms being introduced for this type of activity. It's about professionalism and aviation safety, says the Commercial Director of Lufttransport AS, Geir-Arne Sørensen.

He points out that in all likelihood it will be a future requirement that UAV pilots have formal pilot training, and that this can provide the company with new tasks and new jobs.

He adds that an additional dimension is the company’s long experience with operating around the clock and year-round in the Arctic climate and topography.

“Moreover, it’s a fact that this type of activity has become increasingly more important within specialized niches. As an aircraft and helicopter operator, it’s therefore essential that we contribute to a rise in professional standards in this area, not least with a development that contributes to better control and safety in cooperation with Norwegian and foreign aviation authorities.”

Research, innovation and commercial operation
The Arctic Centre for Unmanned Aircraft Systems will connect research, innovation and business development. ASUF will take a leadership role in the training of personnel, create new products through research and innovation and become a driving force in industrial technology development.

The centre will span the entire value chain from basic research to innovation and commercial activities.

Three test sites
The Civil Aviation Authority of Norway has approved Snarby near Tromsø as an operational test site, and procedures have been established for coordination with Avinor/Tromsø Airport. There will also be similar test facilities at Bardufoss and Ny Ålesund in Svalbard.

The current partners aim to invite additional partners once the centre is established.

The Director of the centre is Rune Storvold, a Senior Research Scientist at Norut. At the time of establishment, around 25 people will be affiliated with the activities at ASUF.