Consortiq Joins The Heathrow Fly2plan Project

For immediate release – 18 February 2021

LONDON, HEATHROW —  Today, drone service provider Consortiq can announce that on 1 Nov. it joined the Heathrow Airport led Fly2plan Project. Consortiq is one of several newer organisations working with established industry players such International Airlines Group (owners of British Airways), and NATS  (the UK’s Air Navigation Service Provider), along with representatives from academic institutions, and Air Traffic Management technology providers.

Fly2plan, an ambitious project under the Future Flight Programme, was formed to build a blockchain-based system for drone flight planning and integration with Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems, whilst utilising existing developments in ATM, such as SWIM.

A better way to manage airspace

Fly2plan is attempting to shape the future of Air Traffic Management, by leveraging the benefits of new technologies such as Blockchain, to ensure the systems behind airspace can deal with the future demands that routine drone operations, parcel deliveries and flying taxis will place on it. 

Although Blockchain (a form of Distributed Ledger Technology) was built with financial transactions in mind. Other industries and use cases are being developed daily.  Its distributed model of trust and built-in data integrity provisions make it ideal to support the safety critical infrastructure of our skies.

Our role in the Future

Consortiq has a unique place in this project as the representatives of the End-Users, the drone operators and hardware manufacturers, and as one of only two organisations on the project that have experience in the drone industry. Engagement with both users and manufacturers will be critical to the success of the project, building a product that’s unusable by pilots & operators or requires too much of the hardware manufacturers will limit its viability from day one. 

With the Consortiq team’s background in Manned and Unmanned aviation, including Air Traffic Control Engineering, they understand the challenges integrating high volumes of drone flights will present and the importance of safety and security in our Air Traffic systems infrastructure. Consortiq believes that Blockchain is a potentially game-changing technology for these systems whilst meeting all the criteria that supporting infrastructure critical to Britain’s economy demand.

Consortiq’s Managing Director, Gareth Beverley said: “This project has the potential to kickstart the revolution of Air Traffic Management, and we’re proud to be part of it. Our driving passion is to find a better way for our customers to achieve their goals whether its powerline or runway inspections, or delivering thousands of packages a day, and a system that will help them plan and safely fly missions in any airspace safely certainly fits that bill.”

On Airport Operations

One of the benefits of working with a world renowned institution such as Heathrow Airport, is understanding how they see the progression of autonomous technologies inside the perimeter of the airport. 

Currently on-airport drone operations have to follow a cumbersome manual approval process, involving engagement with many stakeholders. 

The benefits of these operations are numerous whether it’s minimising the disruption to air traffic by conducting Foreign Object Debris (FOD) inspections, or reducing the time spent by crews during the survey of runways to inspect integrity, not to mention the time and cost savings that are possible in these applications. Drones can help to improve the quality of data too, and enable decisions to be made quicker and more proactively than normal. 

In the future many operators will want to conduct autonomous on-airport operations for either safety and security reasons, routine maintenance checks of assets, or transport from urban hubs with flying taxis. Fly2plan also enables those operations by creating a collaborative source of truth for on-airport deconfliction. 

Consortium Members

Consortiq is proud to be working alongside the following consortium members:

Altitude Angel, CiriumConsortiq , Cranfield UniversityDigital CatapultIAG, IBSInnovate UKNATSRockport Software, SITA, TEKTowr, and University of Oxford

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Drones in the United Kingdom: A 10-Year UK Drone Industry Outlook

The year 2020 has been challenging, to say the least.

The human and economic toll of the global pandemic has had a lasting impact on us all. Hardly any industries in the UK have remained untouched by COVID-19. During lockdown, around 7.6 million jobs are at risk—a term used to encompass permanent layoffs, temporary furloughs, and reductions in hours and pay.

As a result, the UK’s GDP for 2020 is expected to shrink by 9 percent overall.

Is the Drone Industry a Saving Grace for the UK Economy?

As 2020 continues to wind down, a sense of relief can be felt as a challenging year is coming to a close.

While some industries — such as accommodations, food services, and retail — have significantly suffered, others have been more resilient. The UAV industry has fared relatively well in these trying times, and has a positive outlook for the coming decade.

Recent estimates project that, by 2030, drones will have a significant impact on the UK economy. The UAV industry is poised to increase the UK’s GDP by £42 billion and create a net cost savings for the economy of £16 billion.

Even more promising, given the furloughs caused by the pandemic, is the potential for job creation. By 2030, jobs within the UK drone industry should reach 628,000, with over 76,000 drones operating in British skies.

Drone photo of London, England

Why is the Drone Industry Growing So Much in the UK?

It is important to explore the reasons for this projected growth and positive economic contribution.

An understanding of the “why” will help you make the decision to investigate how you too can benefit from drones. The beneficial applications of drone technology produce cost-savings and improved efficiencies. The UK is taking advantage of several of these benefits to manage costs, lower risk, and improve safety.

The challenges of current conditions in the UK, and globally, will force many businesses and civic organizations to streamline budgets and innovate to stay alive.

Drones are one of the tools major industries are working with in the UK to do just that. Further expansion of their use is inevitable.

The UK’s oil and gas industry serves as an excellent example of why drones will continue to produce significant economic returns. Over the past 50 years, the industry has generated over 300,000 jobs, with around 60% of these staying within the United Kingdom.

The same period also accounts for an estimated £330 billion in production tax.

RECENT ARTICLE: Ultimate Guide to UK Drone Licenses & Regulations in 2020 and Beyond

Cost management in the oil and gas industry is best illustrated through the reduction of downtime. Imagine the daily operations on an offshore oil rig.

These engineering marvels are capable of retrieving vast amounts of resources from the ocean floor. They require extensive preventative maintenance. Many of the areas that need to be inspected are very dangerous for people.

Flare stacks, which are used for burning off flammable gases released by safety valves, require frequent inspections. When humans inspect these structures, the system must be turned off.

Drones, on the other hand, can conduct these inspections while the stack is still live. In some cases, keeping the flare stacks live can save an estimated £4 million per day.

Detecting some issues before they become significant problems helps to lower risk. Drones are now being equipped with gas detection equipment to survey pipelines and other structures with pressurized gases.

Early detection saves lives, reduces repair costs, and prevents major environmental disasters.

Drones have a positive impact on safety by reducing human exposure to unsafe conditions. Working at heights is one of the most significant contributors to workplace death and injury in the UK. Drones can inspect equipment hundreds of meters high without any risk to people.

Bringing It All Together

Benefits such as those listed above are by no means unique to the oil and gas industry. Many of the UK’s largest industries, such as utilities, public defense, health, agriculture, and construction, benefit from UAV technology for similar reasons.

Additional positive benefits for the UK, which also translate into increased UAVs utilization, can be seen in applications that benefit British citizens. Drones are seeing use by law enforcement, emergency medicine, and research.

Drones that transport medical supplies during a pandemic, such as those on the Isle of Wight, serve the greater good. Additionally, they create jobs and increase productivity.

These examples illustrate why drones are projected to have such a lasting and significant impact on the UK’s economy. With a growing list of use cases and more businesses taking a look at how they too can benefit from UAV technology, drones in the UK have a bright future for the coming decade.

If you have yet to investigate using drones now is the time. Complete the form below and we’ll help get you started!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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