IATA WCS2017: Astral Aerial wins Innovation Award with drone project

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IATA Innovation Award 2017

Astral Aerial Solutions has won the 2017 IATA Cargo Innovation Award with its ‘UTM Concept for Africa’, a project to use drones in remote areas with insufficient infrastructure.

Kenya-based Astral Aerial Solutions is a subsidiary of Astral Aviation, and says the concept seeks to answer the questions surrounding safe, secure and effective drone operations and integration into existing airspace.

Describing its entry, Astral says: “We believe integrating UAS into the existing airspace will solve an array of UAS traffic management issues such as UAV-Aircraft collisions and congestion. This in turn will open up the continent to new technologies and associated benefits of UAS operations.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) picked five finalists this year instead of the usual three, saying the quality of the submissions were of such high quality.

The other finalists at the World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Abu Dhabi were Etihad Cargo’s ‘Smart Electric Cool Dolly’, Gatechain’s ‘Redefining trade with blockchain’, ‘Innovative Decision Support System’ by Jettainer, and ‘SkyBreathe Fuel Efficiency’ by Openairlines.

Etihad Cargo says its smart dolly: “would set a positive precedence of innovative electric vehicles across the global cargo community positively impacting the Pharmaceutical industry as well as other growing sectors such as Perishables and Live Animals.”

Explaining its product, Gatechain says paper is still the main mean of information, and says: “Current initiatives do not tie into the processes of the airfreight customers, that simply want to buy and sell goods, get financing and transport the cargo. By using blockchain technology, the two separate streams, finance and goods, can be connected and make the transactions agile and transparent.”

Jettainer says its system supports unit load device (ULD) steering decisions, reducing working time for standard and basic tasks, leaving more time for complex decisions, saying: “Using a big data based expert system to support our ULD steering staff to better, more efficient and environmentally conscious manage our customer’s ULD fleets.”

Toulouse-based OpenAirlines is a consulting and software provider and says its product: “uses Big Data algorithms to analyse a large quantity of flight data (from black boxes, weather data, traffic data…) on each flight operated by airlines. Then, it detects manoeuvres or best practices that could be implemented to improve their fuel efficiency.”

The IATA Cargo Innovation Award was first held at the 2015 WCS in Shanghai and was won by CHEP Aerospace Solutions with its CanTrack solution, an energy enhancing tracker for ULDs, to ensure reduced cargo and container damage with increased visibility.