At the beginning of November the first unmanned flights took off from the ATLAS (Air Traffic Laboratory for Advanced Systems) Experimental Flight Centre, located in Villacarillo (Jaen, Andalusia). These test flights formed part of the overall trial phase for the runway and also for the activation and correct usage of the allotted airspace for the centre.
All of the facilities at the centre are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013, and will begin full operation during the first quarter of 2014. It is the very first dedicated unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology facility in Spain.
The initiative was instigated by the Advanced Aerospace Technology Centre (CATEC), and its main aim is to provide UAS manufacturers and operators, official organisations, regulatory bodies, universities and technological centres with a fully equipped aerodrome and the required airspace to research and develop this type of aircraft. Today this field is considered as a key factor in the future development of the overall aerospace sector.
The southern European location also adds a great deal of value to the facility, as the climate is very well suited to the intense development and test schedules of programmes of this type.
The aeronautical engineering and consultancy firm AERTEC Solutions has been involved in the development of this project since the outset: from the initial feasibility study and implementation, to the basic and detailed projects and works supervision
The facility comprises a small aerodrome with a main runway, an airfield and a 620m2 building to be used for mission control (control tower with radar and associated communications installations), along with space for offices and meeting rooms etc. There are also a number of separate hangars with space for maintenance and repair workshops, and finally some further infrastructures to provide logistical and technical support to the centre.
Key characteristics of the centre:
- Location: Villacarrillo (Jaen, Spain)
- Investment: 2.000.000 € works budget
- Surface area: 12 Hc
- Runway: 600 m long / 18 m wide
- Apron: 1.700 m2
- Land development: space for 22 cars / 5 coaches
- Maintenance hangar: 4 UAV stands. 840 m2
- Mission control facility: 4 floors / 620 m2
Click to see the video of ATLAS Centre test flights.