Skyports selects Westcott Space Cluster as centre of excellence for drone operations


Drone capabilities are set to expand at Westcott Space Cluster in Buckinghamshire as drone services provider Skyports picks the south of England site as its European headquarters and centre of excellence.

In partnership with the Harwell-based Satellite Applications Catapult, which is driving innovation in the sector, Skyports plans to use the facilities at Westcott Space Cluster to remotely operate its Beyond Visual Line Sight (BVLOS) drone flights.

Skyports will develop the location as its global command and control centre for delivery, survey and surveillance drone missions to enable remote flight operations anywhere in the world. It also plans to develop the site as a centre of excellence for its world-class pilots.

The Westcott Space Cluster is an integral part of the UK’s space sector growth strategy. It supports rocket and satellite-enabled demonstrator projects and companies within the Space Cluster focus on propulsion, UAV development and next-generation resilient communication networks. The ecosystem is accelerating the development of new technology and applications for high growth markets.

The site is now set to become a centre for drone operations and innovation.

Skyports is a pioneering drone services provider with a host of world-first operations under its belt. It operates drone services for various industries and use cases, including ship-to-shore deliveries, BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone surveying and surveillance, and medical drone logistics. The company’s autonomous BVLOS capabilities significantly cut operational lead times and overheads, providing a cheaper, faster and more reliable service for hard-to-reach areas and critical services.

Martin Smye-Rumsby, Westcott Area Manager at Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “I am delighted that Skyports have chosen Westcott to grow their pioneering drone services. Westcott has a distinguished history of testing and development, so it is fitting that the Westcott Innovation Centre is where Skyports will continue to develop their pioneering operations. By using space data and technology, companies like Skyports will provide services that make life better for us all. Skyports has previously worked on a fantastic healthcare initiative with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Argyll & Bute HSCP to significantly improve logistics and save time when delivering medical services in the Argyll & Bute region.”

Alex Brown, Head of Drone Services at Skyports, added: “Our move to Westcott Space Cluster and work with Satellite Applications Catapult is testament to the fact that drone services have become a core solution for enhancing critical services with more sustainable, cost-effective alternatives. We look forward to moving our operational headquarters to an environment that will foster innovation and research and enable us to demonstrate and extend our capabilities.”

UK space sector growth is being successfully delivered by space clusters like Westcott, where an eco-system of established companies is working collaboratively to undertake research and development of market-leading technologies and services.