U-ELCOME Next Steps Drone Cargo Delivery in Milan

Flight Tests Mark the Start of Innovative Air Mobility in Milan

The inaugural set of drone flights for cargo transport commenced from Malpensa Airport’s Cargo City on the night of July 8-9. These trials represent a significant step towards the future of drone cargo delivery, aiming to optimize delivery times and reduce CO2 emissions as a sustainable alternative to road transport.

The test flights were part of the European project U-ELCOME, coordinated by the EUROCONTROL Innovation Hub under the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking Digital Sky Demonstrator initiative. Co-funded by the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program, SEA Milan Airports serves as the coordinator of the Milan Sandbox for this project.

Key Details of the Flight Trials

During the initial tests, Technosky deployed a NIMBUS cargo drone for an 8 km round trip, transporting goods from Malpensa’s Cargo City to Barbarini & Foglia’s logistics warehouse. These operations were conducted without impacting the manned aviation activities at Malpensa Airport. Subsequent flights are scheduled to transport goods to the SEBI logistics warehouse, covering a 7 km round trip.

The trials, which are set to continue through autumn 2024, will involve further flights operated by Telespazio with Dronus and other partners. The primary aim is to evaluate the feasibility and efficiency of using drones for cargo transport, supported by U-space U1 and U2 services provided by D-flight.

Objectives and Collaborations

The U-ELCOME project is dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability and decarbonization through innovative transport solutions. By leveraging drone technology, the project seeks to provide a viable alternative to traditional road transport, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

SEA Milan Airports collaborates with various Italian partners, including ENAV, D-flight, EuroUSC Italia, Telespazio, TECHNO SKY, and Dronus, in planning and executing these flight campaigns. Regulatory aspects and flight authorizations are managed in partnership with ENAC, ensuring compliance and safety throughout the trials.

U-ELCOME (U-space European COMmon dEpLoyment) is a three-year SESAR Digital Sky Demonstrator project with a budget of 14 million euros, financed through CEF funds. The project involves 51 partners and aims to facilitate the market adoption of U1 and U2 services across Europe. By conducting demonstrations in three European countries, U-ELCOME seeks to develop interoperability and support EU harmonization of U-space services, emphasizing collaboration and information-sharing among various stakeholders.

This initiative is funded by the European Climate, Infrastructure, and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) under grant agreement No. 101079171, with a project timeline extending until October 2025. The ultimate goal is to enable real-world application of U-Space services and support future regulation and standardization efforts.

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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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