Heron AirBridge,Inmarsat partner for operational excellence of drones
The partnership approach will allow Heron AirBridge and Inmarsat to combine their distinct strengths and demonstrate how satellite-based technology may aid with the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into Singapore's commercial airspace.
Heron AirBridge announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to join Inmarsat's Velaris Partner Network (VPN) to create regulatory and operational frameworks and technology for the safe control of drones in urban areas and complicated airspaces. The MoU was signed at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre during Drone Asia 2023.
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Transport, Sustainability and the Environment, also attended the signing event as the Guest of Honour.
Heron AirBridge, with strong government support, is the first Southeast Asian unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) technology business to effectively construct a UTM system capable of managing multiple drone operators. The drone technology developer has actively sought collaborations with industry leaders to assist Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) deployment in the area since its launch in 2022. The VPN, an initiative to foster collaboration utilizing Inmarsat's Velaris connectivity technology for unmanned aircraft, provides an ideal chance to help create the global operating landscape for commercial UAVs.
The partnership will allow Heron AirBridge and Inmarsat to combine their distinct strengths and demonstrate how satellite-based technology may aid with the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into Singapore's commercial airspace. As part of the agreement, Inmarsat will offer Heron AirBridge with low size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) terminals to provide the secure datalink required for BVLOS drone operations. This is the first time Velaris technology has been used in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Our partnership with Inmarsat is a major step towards increasing UAV integration into the city’s crowded airspace and updating regulations so that our efforts can be replicated worldwide,” Ryan Lee, CEO and co-founder of Heron AirBridge, said. “Working together, we look to establish Singapore as a world leader in this burgeoning sector, sharing our vision of creating value through the utilisation of low-level airspace globally. Inmarsat was a vital partner in powering the movement with Velaris by ensuring that we are equipped with the core network and datalink capabilities we need to drive UAV integration.”
Moreover, the two businesses seek to collaborate with the aviation community to co-develop operational standards, frameworks, and technologies that will increase the number of UAVs in Singapore's airspace and serve as a blueprint for future global roll-out.
Joel Klooster, senior vice president of aircraft operations and safety, Inmarsat, added, “Uncrewed aviation is a sector poised for growth. The air vehicles and communications technology are ready, but unlocking their potential hinges on consistent, global regulatory progress. Together with Heron, we are creating a blueprint for the integrated airspace of the future. Leveraging Inmarsat’s Velaris technology, coupled with Heron’s regional domain expertise, will ensure operators of airspace and UAVs have the tools needed to drive regulatory acceptance in the region and beyond.”
The Inmarsat cooperation comes on the back of Heron AirBridge’s recent announcement of a strategic alliance with CWT Aerospace and the Singapore Association of Shipsuppliers and Services to collaborate on maritime drone logistics. More exciting projects are in the pipeline and will be announced shortly, such as a partnership with King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang to support the research and development of UTM concepts and technologies in Thailand.