Belfast's First Advance Air Mobility Summit: £2bn Export Potential for NI Economy

  • Delegates attending Belfast cyber security specialist ANGOKA’s first advanced air mobility (AAM) summit this week (09 November 2022) told that the sector in Northern Ireland could be worth up to £2bn in exports.

    Nearly one million UAVs or drones could be in daily commercial and service use before 2030 across the UK, the conference learned. ANGOKA Chief Technology Officer Shadi Razak told the international audience that UAVs including cargo and passenger-carrying devices were no longer a futuristic proposition.

    “The future of AAM for commercial, defence and blue light usage is now upon us,” Mr Razak said at the conference hosted by KPMG in its Belfast headquarters. “Now we need to quickly prove the reliability and safety of these drones and the systems and frameworks within which they can operate.”

    The ANGOKA conference explored advancements in air mobility and connected societies and published the findings of a three-year study on the threat landscape that drones and UAVs will have to safely navigate. A hacking demonstration to illustrate this landscape and how ANGOKA can mitigate for all eventualities using its secure communication technology was successfully completed.

    Related: Belfast cybersecurity firm makes the finals of KPMG Global Tech Innovator Awards

    Addressing the conference, Chris Brown, KPMG Partner of Aviation Strategy and Global Chair of AAM and Future of Flight commented that Northern Ireland is "well positioned" to benefit from the emerging sector.

    “Investing in a new ecosystem to support AAM will involve significant coordination of effort and investment, but will bring a range of benefits to the people, businesses and communities of Northern Ireland,” adding that the export potential exists if we can replicate our existing success in the traditional aerospace supply chain, add our cybersecurity expertise to the export mix, and attract an aircraft original equipment manufacturer.

    "These would include faster medical deliveries and emergency relief, remote maintenance of utilities installations on and offshore, leapfrogging infrastructure bottlenecks, last mile deliveries to your door, connectivity of under-served locations and zero-emissions integrated transport," concluded Mr Brown, comparing the cost of building roads, railways and bridges to the significantly lower investment required for the installation of controlled air corridors.

    ANGOKA’s role in securing these air corridors and the UAVs using them, known as Uncrewed Traffic Management systems (UTMs) is now acknowledged as central to the successful deployment of the new transport technologies. Mr Razak says his company’s role in ensuring the accuracy and security of the communications between devices is central to the successful, safe and secure operation of automated, teleoperated UAVs.

    “We are moving faster than ever towards the commercialization of automated flight across many sectors ranging from search and rescue to logistics and traffic management,”

    Related: ANGOKA in central role to bring air corridors to UK

    ANGOKA has a proven record of creating impenetrable security systems to protect driverless road vehicles and UAVs. In March this year, two commercial vehicles controlled by a remote operator in Oxford travelled on open roads throughout Oxford and London City. During the journey, they were repeatedly subjected to hacking attempts all of which were unsuccessful due to the fitted ANGOKA cyber security system.  

    The Belfast firm has partnered with a number of projects in the UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge including Skyway in the south of England, a 165mile (256km) drone corridor and the world's longest, which has been designated for drones and unmanned aircraft. 

    Speakers included a stellar cast from the world’s leading advanced air mobility and cyber security sectors. Kieran Arnold, the chief architect at Future Networks and Systems, Laura O’Neill, digital transformation manager at Belfast Harbour, Gokhan Celik of A-TechSYN, Mark Balsdon, Head of New Airspace Users and Partnerships, NATS, Paul Malcolmson, regional manager of Northern Ireland for Innovate UK, Stephen Farmer, Altitude Angel, James Fletcher, Director of Cyber Centre of Excellence, KPMG, Dr Saba al-Rubaye, Cranfield University and Dr Vishal Sharma of QUB.

    Source: Written from a press release

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