Brussels Airport buys stake in DronePort UAV and AAM ecosystem

Brussels Airport DronePort AAM

The operator of Belgium’s Brussels airport is taking another step in its involvement in and support of UAV and next generation aircraft development by acquiring a 30% stake in DronePort, a project seeking to create a full ecosystem for advanced air mobility activity (AAM).

The Brussels Airport Company said it will invest in DronePort as part of its continuing efforts to encourage drone and related AAM operations, and safely and effectively integrate those into the national and European airspace along with traditional craft. 

Founded in 2013 at a former air base about 60 kilometers east of Brussels, DronePort works to encourage research and innovation with UAVs and other craft with access to its onsite ecosystem. That includes a regional airport, testing facilities, an incubator to support emerging sector startups, and a campus the various actors can use to pursue their projects. 

Though no amount was cited in announcing the investment, Brussels Airport Company said the one-third stake it was taking in DronePort was a logical expansion of its existing activities in UAV and AAM development.

“By acquiring a 30% stake in DronePort, we will have the opportunity to take a unique position in this emerging industry,” said Arnaud Feist CEO of Brussels Airport Company. “We are increasingly investing in the development of innovative technologies, and are working on various drone projects, including airport security and operational efficiency. With this participation in DronePort, Brussels Airport wants to strengthen its role in the development of solutions and services based on drone technology.”

That entry onto DronePort’s holding comes nearly 18 months after Brussels Airport Company acquired 50% of UAV and AAM company SkeyDrones. Providing software-based services that help small craft operators and authorities co-manage safe and efficient drone flights, the company is an affiliate of skeyes, the air traffic control group that oversees passenger flights in and out of Brussels Airport.

Read moreBrussels Airport enters drone activity with 50% startup stake

At the time of that deal, Brussels Airport Company said its objectives in teaming up with skeyes in the startup was to pursue drone applications like deliveries and future air taxi services that will be fully compatible with its main passenger air transport business. 

Its position as a shareholder and of DronePort is an effort to broaden its support of diverse AAM development that the ecosystem seeks to enable at a national level.

“DronePort was founded a few years ago, already responding to the burgeoning drone industry and was ahead of its time thanks to its unique test facilities, incubation operation and infrastructure,” said Tom Vanham, general manager of Limburg Investment Company, one of the initiative’s founding backers. “The entry of Brussels Airport Company will herald a new chapter for DronePort, a next step in the company’s life cycle. Brussels Airport is a strong strategic partner with solid aviation knowledge, a clear ambition and an international network that will help DronePort scale up to a reference in the drone sector at European level.” 

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