ALIAS uncrewed aircraft trial – engagement with Guernsey
From Port of Jersey
26th January 2023
A delegation from Ports of Jersey visited colleagues in Guernsey last week to provide a technical briefing on the planned trial of uncrewed aircraft in Jersey. It’s hoped the trial could lead to drones being used to improve connectivity between the islands, deliver critical medical supplies, and 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 travelled to Guernsey for the meeting alongside Ports of Jersey.
Ports of Jersey’s CEO, Matt Thomas, said: “We are excited to be part of a consortium which is investigating cutting edge technology. Two of our core business objectives are building connectivity and investing in Jersey’s future, so ALIAS is a perfect fit for us.”
Airport Director, Robin MacRae, explained why Ports of Jersey became involved in the project: “We see ALIAS as a great opportunity, not just for Ports, but for the Channel Islands. It will enable us to move essential medical supplies, bolster our Search and Rescue capability, and eventually to provide air taxi services within the Channel Islands.
“Sustainability is also important to us. We want to make swift progress on the decarbonisation of aviation, so we are keen to pursue opportunities to work with like-minded partners.”
Managing Director of Guernsey Ports, Colin Le Ray, explained why this demonstration was of interest to him and his counterparts: “Ports of Jersey have identified ALIAS as a great opportunity, not just for their Ports, but for the Channel Islands. It will enable them to move essential medical supplies, bolster their Search and Rescue capability, and potentially provide air taxi services within the Channel Islands.”
Guernsey Ports COO, Ross Coppolo, said: “Guernsey Ports were delighted to be asked to assist with the Project Alias Programme by our Jersey colleagues. We were impressed with the cutting-edge technology Volant Autonomy were developing and we look forward to supporting the teams with planned demonstration flights in early 2024.”
The ALIAS programme is a two year £3.7m 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, but apart from NASA, the ALIAS programme 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.
About 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 test area hasn’t yet been decided but will be an area of low traffic density, probably around half a mile offshore, and avoid nature reserves.
- The drones will fly below 3,000ft, which is well underneath commercial aircraft flight paths, and will be the height that these would probably operate at in the future.
- 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 helicopter will operate exclusively from the airport adhering to all local noise regulations. Data will be gathered to determine if there is likely to be any impact on wildlife.
- The trial is set to take place in March and May 2024. Prior to coming to the Island, all safety planning and regulatory approval will have been completed.
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.