May 18, 2023

World-Leading Drone Centre Opens in Buckinghamshire

The Satellite Applications Catapult launches its new Drone Test and Development Centre (DTDC) facility at Westcott Venture Park in Buckinghamshire.

The site is a former RAF base and has a 270m runway, four dedicated landing pads for vertical, or vertical to horizontal take-off, and multiple flying areas offering real-world environments.

The DTDC offers permanent hangars as workshop space for companies wishing to base themselves at Westcott, and flexible workbench options for those operators looking for short term leases and a place to test their equipment. The Satellite Applications Catapult is proud to have Skyports Drone Services as their inaugural customer.

Future plans for the site include development of Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) capabilities and pilot training.

The opening event included opening speeches by industry experts, funders and supporting companies, plus tours of the DTDC and Skyports Drone Services Hangar, Drone Operator stands, and a demonstration by SLiNK-Tech and Cambridge Sensoriis of their automated take-off and landing systems for drones and air-taxis.

The development of the DTDC has been made possible with support from a key local partner, the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, who have invested £1.4 million of Bucks LEP Getting Building Funds.

Lucy Edge, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of Satellite Applications Catapult, who opened the site, said: The drone test and development centre is a fantastic facility, providing accessible and flexible workshop spaces to support cutting edge drone technologies. With our secure runway on-site, clients can easily operate and fly their drones within a safe testing environment.

Our first customer, Skyports Drone Services, is already working from its flight operations headquarters at the site and is sure to push the boundaries of what is possible to super-charge growth at Westcott and beyond.

Supporting the launch, SLiNK-TECH, a provider of automated take-off and landing systems for drones and air-taxis and Cambridge Sensoriis, a supplier of drone radar systems for automated landings, showcased future possibilities for the facility with a wider state-of-the-art drone technology demonstration.

Planned research in three new dedicated workshop hangars will include developing, testing and evolving equipment used for the safe, efficient and effective management of drone flights, as well as wider aviation and aerospace research. Hangar 1 is currently occupied by Skyports Drone Services which operate its flight ops HQ at Westcott, where its expert team of drone pilots plan and operate remote operations and collaboratively train and onboard new vehicles.