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NEWS Last modified on May 21, 2019

UK Civil Aviation Authority launches 'innovation sandbox'

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has followed the innovation lab initiatives of an ever increasing number of the world's airports by launching a virtual space to safely test new technology.

Called the ‘Innovation Sandbox’, it offers innovative companies the chance to discuss, explore, trial and test emerging concepts, in the process helping the UK’s aviation sector to continue to be at the forefront of technology.

The new UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Innovation Team, initially funded by a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) grant, has launched the Innovation Sandbox with six participants.

Altitude Angel – a company delivering solutions which enable the safe integration and use of highly automated drones into airspace. Through its airspace management platform, GuardianUTM O/S, it delivers software foundations for safely unlocking the potential of drones.
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Amazon – a future delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.

NATTS and Searidge Technologies – air traffic control body NATS and its digital tower partner, Searidge Technologies, are working to implement new technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital air traffic control towers.

NBEC Consortium – Cranfield University and its partners, Blue Bear Systems Research, Thales and Vodafone are creating an experimentation corridor that will enable drones and unmanned aircraft fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) by having their locations tracked and thus safely fly in the same airspace as manned aircraft.

Nesta Challenges – the Flying High Challenge, part of Nesta Challenges, is a collaborative engagement with cities, technologists, researchers, regulators, government, public services and the public to shape the future of urban drone use in the UK.

Volocopter – a company developing electrically powered urban air taxis (#eVTOLs) – based on drone technology – to help modern cities solve their increasing mobility issues.

The CAA’s innovation team will work closely with the participants to help them understand how they can meet regulatory requirements. Ultimately, this will be one of the elements these innovators will need in order to bring their new aviation and travel products and services to market.
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Announcing the new Innovation Sandbox, Tim Johnson, director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The UK is a global leader for aviation innovation and we are excited to be playing our role to support this.

“Public safety remains our number one priority, and our Innovation Sandbox will allow for the creation of world-first technologies, tried and tested in a safe environment.”

Emma Simpson, head of the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s new Innovation Team, added: “We are working to enable innovative ideas and continue to collaborate with the international community, working with industry, for the public.

“These first six participants in our Innovation Sandbox are bringing exciting opportunities for the UK to benefit from in years to come.” 

While the UK's Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, said: “We are in an era of rapid technological change and it’s exciting to see how these pioneering projects will put the UK at the forefront of growth industries of the future.

“Our innovation-friendly approach, builds on our global reputation in regulation, and is helping make the UK the global destination of choice for new aviation technology as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”


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