Spain is now equipped with the first national centre specifically and entirely dedicated to experimenting with unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones. It is also the third such centre in Europe.
It is located in the local authority of Villacarrillo in the province of Jaén, where there is suitable stable weather throughout most of the year, as well as traffic-free airspace. Both these aspects are essential for facilities of these characteristics. With regard to restricted airspace, the centre has approximately 1,000 square kilometres, thereby ensuring the continuity of testing programmes. Flight testing has been conducted at the centre since last November.
As of this moment, the facilities are ready to run at full capacity and deal with any requests for work that may come from companies in the aeronautical industry. A collaboration agreement has already been signed with the multinational Boeing to initiate a series of test shortly.
The ATLAS Experimental Flight Centre is equipped with a main runway measuring 600 metres long and 18 metres wide, with the potential of being lengthened to up to 850 metres. It also has an apron, a flight tracking building and ancillary facilities, along with several hangars.
This centre was promoted by the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA) and one of its aims is to allow developers, manufacturers, unmanned aerial vehicle operators, regulatory authorities, official agencies, universities, technology centres and research centres to have some ideal infrastructures available to develop civil applications for this kind of aircraft, such as surveillance, mapping, fire fighting support, civil defence missions or interventions at catastrophes involving a risk to people.
AERTEC Solutions, an aeronautical engineering multinational, was the company commissioned to handle the facilities’ concept, design and building project management, along with supervising its construction works.