DronePort

SABCA, a leading Belgian player in the international aerospace industry, has set its sights on the unmanned aircraft market. SABCA wants to become the European reference within the drone ecosystem for the integration, testing, certification, qualification and maintenance of drones. To realise these ambitions, SABCA has concluded a collaboration agreement with DronePort, the test and business centre for the drone and aviation industry on the former air force base in Sint-Truiden.

The SABCA Group is resolutely making the strategic choice to strengthen its activities around its core competencies. With almost 100 years’ experience on the clock and extensive know-how in many areas of civil aviation, aerospace and defence, SABCA wants to make full use of this knowledge and offer unique technological solutions and services on the unmanned aircraft market. In a highly globalised and competitive world, the development of strong niches is essential to position oneself sustainably as an innovative company.

Integrated service

Thibauld Jongen, CEO SABCA Group: “SABCA is offering a complete range of services that will cover the entire ecosystem of unmanned aircraft. In particular, we are looking at activities involving the integration of drone within controlled airspace, testing, certification on behalf of developers, qualification for users and also training and maintenance of the equipment. The drone sector is developing rapidly, and offers massive business potential. We have identified a need for integrated services for unmanned aircraft, and for this we can rely on years of experience as a service provider in the aviation sector. We therefore want to use this expertise to position ourselves internationally as an innovative partner. A collaboration with DronePort will allow us to offer a full range of services in relation to testing, certification and training. In addition, the ecosystem of young, innovative companies on the site and the associated research guarantees the innovative nature. We are convinced that this cross-fertilisation will represent considerable added value, both for SABCA and for those companies already present on the site.”

DronePort in Sint-Truiden

As an operational basis for some of its drone activities, SABCA is looking at a new location, more specifically DronePort in Sint-Truiden. The existing infrastructure and the specific airspace where tests at great heights are possible with unmanned aircraft is a major benefit for SABCA’s new line of business.

Mr Peter Dedrij, business development manager DronePort: “The unique status of the airspace above Sint-Truiden, which is reserved for testing, demonstration and training activities with drones, offers plenty of opportunities for companies active in the drone industry. Construction is due to begin shortly on a drone incubator, where start-ups can be supported in their development into successful companies. It goes without saying that the arrival of a world player like SABCA will mean huge added value for this drone campus and give a massive boost to its reputation. SABCA is a solid player in the aerospace industry. In its wake, I expect a lot of other companies to follow that will benefit from a site in the vicinity of a collaboration with such a world player.”

Mr Stijn Bijnens, CEO of Limburg investment company LRM and shareholder in DronePort, is also enthusiastic about SABCA’s plans: “SABCA is an authority in the aerospace industry. We are particularly pleased that SABCA wants to establish a new and innovative line of business in Limburg in addition to the existing site in Lummen. For DronePort, interest from a company of this size and reputation is a blessing. SABCA can provide a major impetus in the development of the drone campus in Sint-Truiden.–Ms Veerle Heeren, mayor of the city of Sint-Truiden, concludes: “With the runway and the specific airspace for drones, Sint-Truiden has unique assets to become the epicentre of the drone industry. Large companies like SABCA already know how to find us, and more will undoubtedly follow. This is good news for employment in the region, and evidence that the smart manufacturing industry has a promising future, including in Limburg.”

SABCA boilerplate

The SABCA Group, part of the French Dassault group and the Dutch Fokker Technologies (GKN group), is targeting the market of unmanned aircraft. Established in 1920, the group designs and manufactures materials, structures and techniques for the aerospace industry as well as overhauling, maintaining and modernising aircraft and helicopters for air forces worldwide. The group is active in all three Belgian regions: the Brussels-Capital Region, Gosselies in Wallonia and Lummen in Flanders, and also operates from Casablanca in Morocco for its assembly activities. Clients of the SABCA group include Airbus, Dassault Aviation, Fokker, Safran, ASL, Arianespace and several other institutional and governmental organisations such as Belgian Defence, the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the US Air Force.

More information: www.sabca.be

DronePort boilerplate

DronePort, a company founded by Limburg investment company LRM and the city of Sint-Truiden, wants to bring together knowledge and entrepreneurship in the drone industry on one site. With a comprehensive test area, a landing strip and approved airspace, companies can safely test new applications, provide training and further develop in this new business centre. In addition, DronePort offers a business park with emphasis on aviation-related activities, and an incubator for start-ups in this new sector.

More information: www.droneport.eu