SwissDrones Flies in Malta: BVLOS Flights Over Water

SwissDrones MaltaSwissDrones Completes Test Flights in Malta

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

This week, Transport Malta Civil Aviation Directorate (Transport Malta), Malta’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and SwissDrones, a global manufacturer of long-range unmanned helicopter systems, oversaw a sequence of long-range Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights over water for diligent maritime patrol, search and rescue, and surveillance mission simulations. Further flights were directed in order to test and verify communication and sensor payloads.

The operations were able to take place due to the cooperation of Transport Malta, Malta Communication Authority, Malta Air Traffic Services, Enterprise Malta, Indis Malta, and the San Lawrenz local council.

The flights were carried out in accordance with European Union Safety Administration (EASA) regulations for unmanned aircraft under the Specific Category, with full authorization from Transport Malta.

“The Malta archipelago offers an ideal geographical location for flight testing in demanding maritime conditions over long distances,” said SwissDrones CEO Ulrich Amberg. “Additionally, the nation is a growing hub for robotics and aviation with world-class infrastructure and excellent government support, making it perfectly suitable for establishing a new base of operations.”

“We are impressed with SwissDrones’ meticulous and professional approach to conducting flight operations, as well as the unsurpassed engineering and quality of their aircraft,” said Charles Pace, Transport Malta CAD’s Director General for Civil Aviation. “We thank them for selecting Malta for their maritime testing and validation and look forward to ongoing collaboration.”

SwissDrones MaltaThe SDO 50 V2 Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) unmanned helicopter system was deployed by SwissDrones. The model is designed for a multitude of long-range missions in adverse weather conditions, day and night, at high altitude, and a large spectrum of temperatures, without any risk to the crew.

The unique design features of the aircraft allow for a payload capacity of up to 45 kg (including fuel), long endurance at over 3 hours, stable flight patterns, the ability to carry single or multiple high-quality sensors, and a multitude of safety features. Autonomous take-off and landing procedures and autonomous flight patterns are both enabled by an integrated autopilot system.

The SDO 50 V2 utilizes the Flettner system of coupled dual rotors revolving in opposite directions. Each rotor mast is positioned at a slight angle to the other, allowing the blades to intermesh without making contact. This design feature not only allows for the aircraft’s payload capacity, increased endurance, and stable flight patterns, but also enables the helicopter to function without a tail rotor, saving power and allowing for a substantially higher payload to weight ratio.

“It has been a pleasure working with the Government of Malta,” said the Head of Flight Operations at SwissDrones, Arangan Varatharajah. “Each entity has been incredibly responsive and supportive throughout the entire application processes and we look forward to working closely together in an ongoing capacity.”

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.