Test flights transport drones over urban areas of Enschede

Demonstrations above the city and at Twente Airport part of European drone project AMU-LED

Test flights transport drones over urban areas of Enschede

Drone applications reach the next level. They offer enormous opportunities for first responders, the inspection of vital infrastructure and buildings, and transporting goods. But suppose you want to implement drone technology or, in other words, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) for your city. In that case, you also have to consider its impact on residents and other airspace users. The European project AMU-LED (Air Mobility Urban – Large Experimental Demonstrations) carries out demonstration flights at three different locations, namely Amsterdam, Enschede and Rotterdam. On 9 August, it’s up to Enschede. In addition to major players such as Boeing and Airbus, Dutch organizations such as NLR, AirHub and the drone innovation cluster Space53 are also participating in this international project.

Drones are past the stage of fun, flying cameras. Today’s drone taxis and transport drones are serious tools for countless applications in many sectors. By using drones for medical transport, an extra pair of eyes in the event of a fire, security of a site, building inspections, and ultimately transporting cargo and people by air, drones can gain added value for society. The demonstration flights in and around Enschede aim to demonstrate the social impact of this technology. In Amsterdam, the focus is on public acceptance, and Rotterdam focuses on drone applications’ economic (added) value.

Air traffic control system for drones

Key success factor of the realization of a drone network is U-space, an air traffic control system for the safe integration of drones in the airspace. Just like air traffic control for regular air traffic, the agreements and protocols within U-space ensure that drone flights are carried out safely and efficiently. U-space is highly automated. And requires less human interaction and capacity to handle flights simultaneously, compared to regular air traffic control

Research social impact drones

During the drone demonstration in Enschede, Space53 tests use cases at and around Twente Airport (part of business campus Technology Base) and in the city center. These scenarios show how different airspace users communicate and collaborate safely with each other. First, a transport drone flies from a fictitious hospital – in a meadow on the outskirts of the city – with medical supplies on board to Twente Airport. The drone delivers the medical provisions to the trauma helicopter on site. A patient’s transport is simulated from Vliegveld Twenthe Evenementenlocatie to the fictitious hospital. At the same time, another drone inspects a building next to the hospital, and the trauma helicopter with the medical provisions takes off from Twente Airport. It is crucial here that the flights are given priority based on urgency: high or standard priority. To steer this process in the right direction a so-called Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) is developed using pre-made protocols. For example, the inspection drone and the transport of medical provisions will have to prioritize patient transport. The last use case shows a long-haul flight from the Glanerbrug fire station to Twente Airport / Twente Safety Campus to deliver a fire extinguisher.

Martijn Mennen, program manager Space53: “We are proud to represent Enschede as the drone capital of Europe and our innovative partners in the AMU-LED consortium. This way, we contribute to safely integrating useful drone applications such as support of first responders and (urgent) transport, two of the focus areas within our ecosystem. It is currently difficult to market drone innovations and use them in daily practice. Regulations here are still under development and differ from country to country. Our tests contribute to the development of U-space, a groundbreaking innovation regarding joint agreements, protocols and standards that make unmanned aviation possible throughout Europe.”

Jan Schuring, director of Technology Base and Twente Airport: “Thanks to the well-maintained and long runway, the large open space, the existing infrastructure, the relatively quiet airspace and the strategic location, Twente Airport is the ideal airport to test safely, validate, certify and demonstrate new types of mobility such as Urban Air Mobility.”

Multiple European test flights

The Dutch demonstrations are conducted under the supervision of the Koninklijk Nederlands Lucht- en Ruimtevaartcentrum (NLR). In addition, other European test flights are also planned. The test flights started at the end of June in Cranfield (UK); the goal was to demonstrate that the solution, technologies and systems of AMU-LED do work. The second demonstration in Cranfield will be in September. The last AMU-LED demonstrations will occur in Santiago de Compostela in Spain in September and October, where all previous aspects will be combined.


The European Commission is currently working on a valid European system called U-Space. This system is a set of agreements, protocols and technical standards with which the increasing unmanned traffic in the lower 150 meters of the air layer can proceed safely. Before the U-space system can be introduced, a number of practical tests must first be carried out. To this end, the Air Mobility Urban – Large Experimental Demonstrations – abbreviated AMU-LED – has been established, a large-scale demonstration project funded by the SESAR Joint Undertaking within the framework of the EU’s Horizon 2020 program for research and innovation. The project started in 2020 with two main objectives: to demonstrate the safe interaction between UAM and other airspace users and to demonstrate safe UAM flights.

About Space53

Space53 is the test, training and innovation center for drone technology based in Enschede. The cluster consists of a rich network of companies, government agencies and knowledge institutions that together stimulate and strengthen the development of unmanned systems, production, training and applications. At Technology Base – with the 3 km long runway at Twente Airport and Twente Safety Campus as a test location for safety systems – Space53 has created a unique ‘unmanned’ systems (drone) ecosystem. Researchers and developers come together to develop and test drone technology. Space53 is an important player in national and European innovation projects. The knowledge, financing and network from these projects benefit to grow of the innovation and increases their impact.


This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 101017702. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and the SESAR JU members other than the Union.


p/a Technology Base
Vliegveldstraat 100 – B519*
7524 PK Enschede



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