Spain — During a presentation at the UNVEX16 event at MadridCuatro Vientos Airport, Spain, José Luis Saiz, INAER Spains director of research and development, revealed that the company is working towards using drone aircraft for fire spotting. Saiz said the firm will leverage its extensive experience using optical, infrared and LIDAR sensors for surveillance to allow it to become the first European operator to perform surveillance and observation activities in firefighting missions, not only in the daytime but also at night.
INAER Spain is currently in the process of certificating an unmanned rotary-wing aircraft to carry the same surveillance systems used in its manned helicopters. Weighing 150 kg (330 lbs), the craft can remain in the air for up to four hours. This aircraft will be the first to be certified in Spain for this mission and is scheduled to start operating in the 2018 firefighting season, said the company.
The UAVs will be manufactured at INAERs facilities in Galicia, where images captured will also be processed as part of the Xunta de Galicia Civil UAVs Inititative. Visiting the INAER booth at the event, Regional Minister of Economy, Employment and Industry of Xunta de Galicia Francisco Conde stressed that the project will position Galicia internationally within this industry.
Saiz also announced the proposed creation of a training centre for UAV pilots and operators, as well as a low-altitude air traffic control centre to create a network of air corridors, first in the north and later throughout the country.