German Research Operation To Launch Test Ops in Dedicated ‘Geo-Zone’

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The German Aerospace Center (German acronym DLR) is set to begin expanding drone operations at the National Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) this month at Cochstedt Airport south of Magdeburg, Germany. The operations will be conducted in a geo-zone, defined by German aviation authorities as airspace where drone operations are controlled, restricted or even excluded. Operations within the Cochstedt Airport geo-zone can include aircraft up to 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds) flying beyond line of sight.

Safety requirements include airspace monitoring, already established at the National Test Center, and qualifications for operators and strict rules for each specific mission. Sebastian Cain of the Institute for Flight Systems said, “As users of the geo-zone, drone operators must adhere to these requirements in order to guarantee the highest safety standards for experimental operations.”

The geo-zone will initially be “temporarily active” this month, marking the first implementation of the airspace format that allows operating the drones in an “extended open category,” the first of its kind in Germany. Johann Dauer, head of the Unmanned Aircraft Department at the DLR Institute of Flight Systems, said, “We are creating an unprecedented framework for the testing of drones. Without compromising on safety, we offer a ‘sandbox’ for the drone industry that enables new developments without requiring the complex procedures that may be required for authorizations in other European countries.”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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