SAFIR-Med : Drone ready for take-off !

The EU launches multi-year large scale demonstrations for medical drones with SAFIR-Med. Safe, sustainable and effective Urban Air Mobility (UAM) will support the continued quality and democratic access to the healthcare system in an ecological friendly way. In fact, “SAFIR-Med” stands for SAFE AND FLEXIBLE INTEGRATION OF ADVANCED U-SPACE SERVICES FOR MEDICAL AIR MOBILITY.

Helicus will coordinate an international group of 17 experienced partners supported by 8 cross-industry advisory board members to demonstrate advanced U-Space services, enabling the highest possible operational safety level. For the next two years SAFIR-Med will collaborate with representatives from the entire value chain as either project partners (Air Traffic Control, drone manufacturers, cities, U-space services providers, operator) or as advisory board members (public authorities/aviation agency, healthcare actors, technology & service providers).  A wide range of relevant medical use cases will be targeted with an impressive multitude of unmanned aviation platforms. Furthermore, offloading urgent critical traffic from roads towards the air will not only improve medical logistics and thereby patient health outcome, but also ensure a positive ecologic impact.

The project core partners are: Helicus (Project Coordinator and Operator of medical flights), Future Needs (Communication & Ethics), Skeyes (Air Traffic Control), Unifly (Unmanned Traffic Management software), AgentFly Technologies (Flight simulation & digital twin), Hellenic U-Space Institute (U-space services simulation), SkeyDrone (U-Space Service Provider), Droniq (U-Space Service Provider), NSX (Software platform integrator), INVOLI (Real time air traffic awareness), RWTH Aachen (Institute of Flight System Dynamics), flyXDrive (Tiltwing VTOL manufacturer), TUDelft MAVlab (AED Medical drone manufacurer), HyFly (Hydrogen fuel cell VTOL manufacturer), SABCA (X8 medical transport drone manufacturer), Ehang (Passenger eVTOL manufacturer), City of Aachen (representing EU Urban Air Mobility Initiative for cities Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt, Heerlen and Liège).

SAFIR-Med is supported by a robust advisory board: EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency), The Red Cross, Baloise Insurance, Zuyderland (healthcare group), Droneport (BVLOS test centre for unmanned aviation), Proximus (Telecom), City of Antwerp, Port of Antwerp

The advanced U-Space services include: Detect And Avoid (DAA) as-a-service, Dynamic Geofencing and Air Traffic Prioritization rules. Five drone platforms will be combined with manned aviation in operational exercises validating technology in real urban environment. These drone platforms cover a variety of technologies that together will support a wide range of medical use cases: passenger eVTOL, Hydrogen fuel cell VTOL, AED medical drone, X8 medical transport drone and tiltwing VTOL drone. The demonstration results will be further virtually enhanced through large-scale (hardware in the loop) simulations to evaluate airspace capacity, operator Command & Control Center operations, as well as Air Traffic Control, U-space Service provider and zone manager integrated procedures.

The demonstrations will take place in collaboration with hospitals and laboratories in Antwerp (BE), Aachen (DE), Heerlen (NL) and Maastricht (NL), including an international crossing between Germany and The Netherlands. Prior to these real life demonstrations, a full de-risking exercise at DronePort large scale test-facility (BE) will take place. The project results will then be further validated by simulating demonstrations in two additional locations in Europe, namely Athens, Greece (South EU) and Prague, Czech Republic (Central EU).

All lessons learnt from the project will be documented in a Performance Assessment and Recommendations report, which will include refinements to the current U-space architecture principles, proposals for improved operational procedures and mechanisms for an effective interface with Air Traffic Control (ATC) and U-Space service providers. Finally, suggestions of a set of Urban Air Mobility indicators will complement the existing Smart Urban Mobility Indicators used by European cities. 

The project has received recognition and funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 101017701 under the topic “SESAR-VLD2-03-2020: U-space capabilities and services to enable Urban Air Mobility”.

Project partners:


The SAFIR-Med kick-off meeting took place on the 28th of January 2021. Project news will be made available on the project webpage at and distributed via the project social media channels on LinkedIn and Twitter @SAFIRmedEU.