WCS 2017: Astral Aerial wins IATA Innovation Award for ‘UTM Concept for Africa’


ABU DHABI — As IATA wrapped up its 11th World Cargo Symposium here yesterday, it announced that conference participants chose Astral Aerial Solutions as the winner of its 2017 Air Cargo Innovation award, amongst five finalists that had been narrowed down by a panel of judges.

Astral Aerial won for its UTM Concept for Africa, a project targeted for managing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations in remote areas with insufficient infrastructure. The winners from Astral accepted a check for the US$20,000 grand prize.

“We thank all of the applicants of the Air Cargo Innovation Awards for their many fantastic submissions, especially the finalists who were invited to join us in Abu Dhabi,” IATA said. “All of these many innovative ideas are a source of pride for the air cargo industry.”

The runners-up in the Innovation prize included:

  • Etihad Cargo – Smart Electric Cool Dolly
  • Gatechain – Redefining trade with blockchain
  • Jettainer – Innovative Decision Support System (DSS), ULD management
  • Openairlines – SkyBreathe Fuel Efficiency

This winning concept by Astral Aerial seeks to answer major questions surrounding safe, secure and effective UAS operations and integration into the existing airspace. Astral said that 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,” Astral said. “It is also a unique opportunity for regulators, operators and manufacturers to come together and pave the way forward for UAS use.”

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