Facility for UAS Flight Testing
The National Aerospace Centre (NAC) operates a UAS Facility for Flight Testing. The facility’s location is ideal for flight testing of UAS owing to Malta’s overall package (operational environment, stakeholder community, logistics, communications etc.), including its geographical location in the centre of the Mediterranean together with the favourable climatic conditions that the island enjoys throughout the year. In this facility, the NAC provides services of UAS Flight Testing, Hangar, Workshop and Maintenance Facilities, Offices for Flight Test Instrumentation and post flight data analysis, and UAS training courses.
Being in close vicinity to the sea, the NAC’s Flight Test Facility enables its clients to perform Flight testing on land and on sea. In addition, it allows for a very quick and easy transition between the launch site and NAC’s segregated airspace located in Maltese territorial waters, which allows for beyond visual line of site operations at a variety of altitudes up to flight level 155.
Through its Facility for Flight Testing , the NAC provides the following services:
• Flight Testing
The NAC enables short and long flight tests depending on client requirements. The Facility caters for small to medium-sized fixed wing UAS (through an airstrip 200m long) and all ranges of rotor UAS. The Facility enables Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) flight tests as well as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight tests through NAC’s extensive segregated airspace reaching a peak altitude at FL155 (depending on the distance from the shore).
Such an extensive segregated airspace is ideal to test multiple UAS technologies and applications, such as sense and avoid technologies, maritime search and rescue applications, integration of UAS with commercial aircraft, and more. NAC’s facilities, coupled with NLR’s long standing research in UAS operations involving UAS integration in civil airspace, make NAC’s Facility the ideal location for UAS Testing.
• Hangar, Workshop, and Maintenance Facilities
The NAC offers the possibility of storing UAS and gear on site, in particular for flight tests which cover a long period. In addition, the NAC will host a workshop with maintenance facilities to enable its clients to constantly have their UAS in airworthy condition for the duration of the testing period.
• Offices for Flight Test Instrumentation testing and post flight data analysis
NAC clients will have access to exceptional offices where they can download and analyse the data obtained from the flight tests. These offices can be used by the clients for research and testing of their UAS systems. The facility also offers the NAC’s clients the possibility to calibrate their instrumentation required for UAS testing.
• Theoretical and Practical training courses
The NAC will provide training for new UAS pilots in the form of theoretical and practical UAS training courses, which are accredited by the Maltese and Dutch Civil Aviation Authorities.
• Technical Assessments
The NAC will offer the service of individual technical assessments, consisting of a review of all UAS documentation, UAS ground inspection, and UAS flight inspection. Such a service will take place at NAC’s facility for UAS Testing in Xewkija, Gozo.
• UAS Demonstrations
The NAC offers its clients with the possibility of utilising NAC’s facilities to demonstrate to their own clients any of their products, which may include fixed wing or rotor UAS types, or UAS systems and other related technologies. The NAC will endeavour to create the right atmosphere to enable its clients to promote their products and reach their goals.
• Developing UAS piloting skills
The NAC offers its clients with the possibility of practising and developing their UAS piloting skills following attendance of any UAS practical training courses. In addition, should a client procure a new UAS and would like to practice piloting it at NAC’s facilities, NAC offers such a possibility.