In the presence of Minister for Mobility François Bellot, the EspaceDrone group inaugurated Friday the first drone test and training area in Liernu, Wallonia (Namur Province). This is the second of its kind in Belgium; the first opened in St Truiden last December.
Approved by the Directorate General of Air Transport (DGTA), the location benefitted from a derogation to allow professional “droners” to evolve outside of the framework of the Royal Decree in force. In addition, these will be able to fly at an altitude three times higher, at night if they wish, and for a distance of 3.8 km. The authorization also includes freight transport, throwing objects, spraying or even towing.
“The UAV sector is booming, and there are some 1,000 highly qualified licensees in Belgium,” Mr. Bellot said. “A tool like this is essential to enable them to develop and validate new technologies.”
EspaceDrone hopes to attract to Liernu a wide range of professionals, both Belgian and foreign. “We are expecting institutions, NGOs, universities and other research centres, as well as UAV manufacturers and dealers,” its CEO Renaud Fraiture said. “UCL, for example, has already notified its intention to test here.”
Many applications are possible. In UCL’s case, for instance, the idea is to pursue the development of a drone-penetrating radar to perform a mapping of soil properties in a context of precision agriculture, Minister Bellot’s office explained.