On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, FCS successfully demonstrated its new NavAidDrone at Munich International Airport. The demonstration provided the opportunity to evaluate and validate the operational concept of the drone within the challenging environment of an international airport. This was the starting point for a change process, with the aim to replace the current ground-based Glideslope measurements, completed with an antenna on a telescopic mast, with a more flexible, sophisticated and versatile tool – the NavAidDrone.
The ground-based measurements of the GP, currently completed twice a year with an antenna mounted on a telescopic mast, are an integral part of the comprehensive ILS maintenance program run by the German ANSP, DFS. With the technology behind these measurements becoming obsolete, the NavAidDrone offers significantly improved results to the DFS engineers performing ILS maintenance. Additionally, by avoiding reinvestment into obsolete technology and through streamlining overall processes relating to ILS maintenance at the airport, it will further translate into significant cost savings.
Through the product demonstration in Munich, FCS, together with our strategic partner Colibrex, could demonstrate the operational concept along with the functionality, quality and integrity of the NavAidDrone measurement results, in a real-world operational environment at an international airport for the first time. Adding proof to the integrity of the drone measurements was one of our King Air 350 calibration aircraft flying a “hot” flight inspection mission to the same ILS, simultaneously. Through direct comparison of the results, verification of the NavAidDrone functionality and measurement quality could be demonstrated. Furthermore, the parallel operation of both drone and calibration aircraft during ongoing, normal operations of the runway and airport clearly shows the operational advantage of this new calibration concept. Unlike current technology (telescopic mast), our drone does not require a runway closure for safe operation, thus avoiding any capacity restrictions in terms of regular traffic at the airport.
With this drone technology, FCS will broaden its product portfolio. To that end, this demonstration marked an important milestone. With this milestone at hand, the drone project enters a 9-month long Demonstration and Validation phase, aimed at optimizing set-up and operational efficiencies, with the goal to offer our NavAidDrone as a supplement to classic Flight Inspection starting from spring 2021.