A new aerospace research center has started operations in Finland, which brings together businesses from the private, public and R&D sectors to create new aviation innovations in response to growing demand.
The LIFT Future Aerospace Centre is located at the Helsinki-East Aerodrome and will build a strong innovation ecosystem with relevant partners. At this point, the partners joining the innovation cluster with host organisation Redstone AERO Oy include VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk) and the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute FGI. The cooperation is aimed at strengthening research, development and innovation collaboration (RDI) in future aviation, while supporting the emergence of new business within the field in Finland.
“VTT sees the role of unmanned aviation growing rapidly worldwide. Finland must seize these revolutionary opportunities and aim for a pioneering role. At the now established LIFT Research Centre, VTT’s RDI focus areas include urban air mobility, the development of airspace management for unmanned aviation, drone swarms and the increased autonomy of the solutions,” says Hannu Karvonen, Senior Scientist at VTT.
Tomi Oravasaari, a professional pilot and pioneer in drone research, who acts as the Director of the RDI unit of NELI (North European Logistics Institute) at Xamk commented: “The use of UAS in civil solutions and applications for authorities has grown rapidly. However, increasing the use on a large scale will not be possible before the operations of unmanned aviation can be safely integrated with traditional manned aviation. Finland has excellent opportunities and competence to join the development of this future industry”.
“The LIFT Future Aerospace Centre will further strengthen the sector and RDI, as the aerodrome environment is transforming into an excellent testbed, providing an improved framework for the activities,” Oravasaari continued. “The LIFT network cooperation and the aerodrome environment provide excellent support for Xamk’s applied research, which develops methods for coordinating current manned aviation and drone flight operations in a safety-oriented manner and creates practical solutions for long-distance drone flights between various airports. This paves the way for the emergence of commercial solutions for drone logistics, among other things”.
The aviation sector is currently undergoing a major transformation. New technologies, the coronavirus epidemic and international sanctions have had an extensive impact on the whole sector in recent years. There are hundreds of organisations involved in aviation in Finland. However, the broad scope of the sector is not generally known.
“One of the key competence areas of the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) is spatial data research related to drones, which plays a key role in the development of autonomous and low-emission aviation applications of the future. In research, we are developing more efficient, accurate and reliable methods for both localisation and navigation of drones and data analysis than we have today,” says Research Professor Eija Honkavaara from the FGI. “The LIFT Research Centre will now open up unprecedented opportunities for RDI activities in the field”.
The National Land Survey of Finland also carries out significant mapping, aerial photography and laser scanning activities, with both its own equipment and through commissioning the data acquisition from consultants. Each year, a total of ten different aircraft are used for collecting the National Land Survey’s mapping data.