The National Aerospace Centre is the Government Agency in Malta which undertakes Research and Innovation in the Aerospace industry. We strive to become a leader in the global research field with the primary objective of becoming a sustainable Centre of Excellence. This will be achieved through the provision of a state-of-the-art research facility and the development of a renowned critical mass of professional researchers.
Our four main domains are:
- Research and Innovation, focussing on the areas of Avionics, Air Traffic Management and Flight Operations, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul, and Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- Operate a National Facility for Flight Testing for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS);
- Act as a National Aerospace Hub by providing consultation to, and be a technology showcase for, the Government of Malta and its agencies; and
- Offer Training as a service, exploiting local capacities and adding value and critical mass to the training sector, whilst extending the national portfolio in this area of expertise.
As stated in point 2, the NAC operates a UAS Facility for Flight Testing. The facility’s location offered by the NAC is ideal for flight testing of UAS owing to Malta’s overall package, including the island’s geographical location in the centre of the Mediterranean together with the favourable climatic conditions that Malta enjoys throughout the year. With NAC’s dynamic structure together with the wealth of experience provided by our Dutch partners, NLR, and access to NLR’s state of the art equipment, through our facility we offer the following UAS services:
The NAC enables short and long flight tests depending on client requirements. The Facility caters for small to medium-sized fixed wing UAS (through an airstrip 200m long) and all ranges of rotor UAS. The Facility enables Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) flight tests as well as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight tests through NAC’s extensive segregated airspace reaching a peak altitude at FL155 (depending on the distance from the shore).
Such an extensive segregated airspace is ideal to test multiple UAS technologies and applications, such as sense and avoid technologies, maritime search and rescue applications, integration of UAS with commercial aircraft, and more. NAC’s facilities, coupled with NLR’s long standing research in UAS operations involving UAS integration in civil airspace, make NAC’s Facility the ideal location for UAS Testing.
- Hangar, Workshop and Maintenance Facilities
The NAC will also offer the possibility of storing UAS and gear on site, in particular for flight tests which cover a long period. In addition, the NAC will host a workshop with maintenance facilities to enable its clients to constantly have their UAS in airworthy condition for the duration of the testing period.
- Offices for Flight Test Instrumentation, Calibration, Post Flight Data Analysis
The NAC will also enable its clients to use its state of the art offices where they can download and analyse the data obtained from the flight tests. The facility will also house offices which will be used for research and testing of UAS systems. The facility will also enable NAC’s clients to calibrate any instrumentation required for UAS testing.
- Theoretical and Practical Training Courses
The NAC’s Facility will also provide training for new UAS pilots in the form of theoretical and practical UAS training courses, which will be accredited by the Maltese and Dutch civil aviation authorities. Such training will be provided on behalf of NLR and will take place at NAC’s facility for UAS testing in Xewkija, Gozo.
- Development and Assessment of Operational Manuals
Depending on client requirements, The NAC will offer support in drafting the operational manual and the safety management system of their respective UAS operations. Furthermore proof assessment services of the operational manuals will be provided based on established criteria by Maltese civil aviation authorities. Such a service will be provided at NAC’s facility for UAS Testing in Xewkija, Gozo.
The NAC in conjunction with NLR will also provide UAS individual technical assessments when needed, consisting of; a review of all UAS documentation, UAS ground inspection, and UAS flight inspection. Such a service will be provided on behalf of NLR and will take place at NAC’s facility for UAS Testing in Xewkija, Gozo.
The NAC also offers its clients with the possibility of utilising NAC’s facilities to demonstrate to their own clients any of their products, which may include fixed wing or rotor UAS types, or UAS systems and other related technologies. The NAC will endeavour to create the right atmosphere to enable its clients to promote their products and reach their goals.
- Develop UAS piloting skills
The NAC also offers its clients with the possibility of practising and developing their UAS piloting skills following attendance of any UAS practical training courses. In addition, should a client procure a new UAS and would like to practice piloting it at NAC’s facilities, NAC offers such a possibility.