ALIAS drone trial

From Port of Jersey
9th April 2024

Ports of Jersey will be managing a series of drone trials in the skies above the north coast of Jersey from next week. These trials mark the next phase of a project which could lead to uncrewed aircraft being used to improve connectivity between the Channel Islands, to deliver critical medical supplies, and to assist with Search and Rescue and Fisheries patrols.

Ports of Jersey is the local project partner in the Agile Integrated Airspace System programme (ALIAS) with Volant Autonomy, who specialise in guidance software for autonomous aircraft. Volant are the lead partners and are running the trials to create standardised protocols for the safe operation of drones, in coordination with Air Traffic Control and crewed aircraft, across the UK. Ports of Jersey is working with Digital Jersey while the ALIAS team is in the Island, to help facilitate their visit.

The project will trial the new technology in segregated airspace until the Air Navigation Services Provider (ANSP) and the National Aviation Authorities (NAAs) for Jersey and the Channel Islands are assured that the technology is safe for future operational and commercial use. The first flight trials are set for next week, with some technical system tests later this week. If they are successful there will be another set of trials in June.

Ports of Jersey’s CEO, Matt Thomas, said: “We see ALIAS as a great opportunity for the Channel Islands. It will enable us to move essential medical supplies, bolster our Search and Rescue capability, and eventually provide air taxi services within the Channel Islands. We are making progress on the decarbonisation of aviation, and we are keen to work on exciting projects with like-minded partners to achieve this. This consortium is investigating cutting edge technology which will eventually be used to build connectivity and invest in Jersey’s future, so ALIAS is a perfect fit for us.”

The drone trials will operate mid-week out of the karting track near the Ronez Loop Road at Sorel. The loop road will be closed temporarily while the trials are underway.

ALIAS programme

The ALIAS programme is a £4m Innovate UK funded project, which will culminate in the series of demonstration flights using ACAS (Aircraft Collision Avoidance System) sXu and Xr standards for air taxis and other new and novel aircraft.

Uncrewed aircraft are already being used in limited trials in the UK, and hundreds of different platforms are being developed However, apart from NASA, the ALIAS project is the only trial programme in the world that is developing an integrated system to manage the aircraft and air traffic control elements, using ACAS (Aircraft Collision Avoidance System) Xr standards for air taxis and other autonomous aircraft.

The Jersey trial

  • Jersey Air Traffic Control manage approx. 8,500km2 of air space and will use just a small section, approximately 60km2 in which to run the trials.
  • The drones will fly below 3,000ft, which is well underneath commercial aircraft flight paths
  • The only cameras on board the aircraft will be to film the trial and the aircraft in the offshore trial area. No images of Islanders will be taken and collated.
  • The electrically powered drones will fly at heights to minimise any noise impact on the local environment.

Drone trials in the UK

  • The Isle of Wight used drones to bring chemotherapy and prescription drugs over to patients during the pandemic so that people didn’t have to travel to the mainland for treatment.
  • HM Coastguard has been trialling uncrewed aircraft in search and rescue missions.
  • Royal Mail is partnering with Windracers to trial and eventually deploy a fleet of uncrewed drones that can deliver mail and parcels to the Shetland Isles and other remote island communities.
Port of Jersey