Singapore’s Heron Technology targets extension of Unmanned Traffic Management services in the region with incorporation of Heron AirBridge
Singapore-based digital aviation and cybersecurity solutions provider, Heron Technology, today announces the incorporation of Heron AirBridge – the company’s standalone Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and drones technology business.
The AirBridge platform is a comprehensive, adaptable and modular Unmanned Traffic Management platform that will enable the integration of AAM and drone operations amongst stakeholders and across differing landscapes. (Photo credit: Heron AirBridge)
The formation of Heron AirBridge reflects the company’s steady progress in the development and testing of its proprietary Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) solution, AirBridge, in real-world conditions. The newly formed entity will serve an essential role in enabling the fast-moving AAM industry by developing and providing customised digital platforms on which the industry’s hardware will operate. Through the multi-year course of the AirBridge platform’s development, the company has worked closely with AAM industry partners, regulatory bodies, and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) across the region to design a secure, reliable and tailored solution that will form the bedrock of the AAM industry.
Mr Ryan LEE, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Heron AirBridge said, “The aviation industry experienced a slowdown amidst Covid-19 pressures, but talks surrounding the AAM industry remained – owing to the promised potential of AAM to positively impact our current mobility processes and standards. As we approach a revival of the aviation industry in 2023 with impending introduction of unmanned aircraft regulations in the near future, AAM stakeholders need reliable, secure and rigorously tested technology solutions that will enable their aircraft, vertiport infrastructure, and fleet and customer management systems to be realized.
We are proud to have indigenously developed Singapore’s first UTM system to cater to the region’s unique requirements. Given the enormous potential of AAM to address the growing challenges of population growth, urbanisation and sustainable development in the region, there is a critical need for a digital platform that can support the introduction of more unmanned aerial operations here. We must move ahead in tandem with continued collaboration between stakeholders to develop the systems required. My partners and I firmly believe this is the perfect time to establish Heron AirBridge to provide dedicated focus to ensuring the necessary software solutions are in place to enable this next exciting phase of the industry.”
Established in 2021 after the management buyout of Nova Systems’ Asia business, Heron Technology has led the development of technology solutions to support AAM deployment in the region since unveiling Singapore’s first UTM system in 2021. Over the past year, the system’s latest iterations were showcased to a host of regulatory authorities and ANSPs from Europe and across the Asia-Pacific region.
AirBridge – A digital backbone for the AAM ecosystem
In a December 2022 report published by McKinsey, AAM software development was identified as a key missing piece of the industry, with a predicted spend of up to 30 per cent of the industry’s total value by 2030. The same report estimates that more than 50 functions need to be performed by AAM digital platforms, all of which need to be tailored for differing aircraft, evolving business models, geographies and regulatory frameworks.
Serving this critical gap in the AAM market, Heron AirBridge’s businesses comprises the AirBridge drone mission and UTM platform, as well as a full suite of technological support services for UTM integration and operations, vertiport digital infrastructure services and complex drone-enabled services. The platform’s features will be continually expanded to meet the evolving needs of the AAM and drone services industries, with customisation based on customer requirements as well the capability to integrate third party applications for an all-in-one ready-to-deploy platform.
Beyond the aviation sector, Heron AirBridge is also working with port authorities and shipping industry stakeholders in multiple Southeast Asian countries to apply the AirBridge platform’s digital infrastructure technologies to strengthen and scale maritime drone operations. To ensure the safe, secure, and seamless integration of these planned flights with traditional aircraft and vessel routes, the company is also working closely with public and private sector organisations to synchronise AAM and aviation regulatory developments.
Singapore as the launchpad for AAM across the region
With Singapore as a front running AAM adopter amongst other first movers such as France, the UK, and Japan, the maturation of regulatory frameworks is a priority. Heron AirBridge is working closely with local authorities and regulatory bodies to develop the technologies and regulatory frameworks necessary for safe and effective AAM deployment. These government authorities include EnterpriseSG and regional transport and aviation authorities.
Ms Anne HO, Director of Advanced Manufacturing, EnterpriseSG said, “Advanced Air Mobility is an emerging growth area that has been identified as part of the Aerospace Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025. EnterpriseSG is pleased to support Heron Airbridge, a homegrown company offering proprietary Unmanned Traffic Management solutions, on its innovation and growth journey.”
AirBridge builds out executive bench strength with Chief Commercial Officer appointment
With the incorporation of Heron AirBridge, Fabrice Ancey has joined the company as Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). The appointment of Mr Ancey will strengthen and expand the company’s capacity to serve its growing customer and partner base globally. An Aerospace Engineer by training, Mr Ancey possesses over two decades of experience in implementing and overseeing technology integration in the aviation and transportation industries, Mr Ancey will lead on the company’s business development strategies and execution, while supporting its critical work with industry partners, private and public sector entities, and regulatory authorities.
CCO of Heron AirBridge, Mr Fabrice ANCEY said, “I am thrilled to have joined the Heron AirBridge team at this pivotal period of the AAM industry. If we are to see legitimate progress in real-world deployments of AAM operations, we have to ensure that the underlying technology that each autonomous aircraft, vertiport operator, operating crew member, and end-user will rely on is safe, secure and scalable. We are at a truly exciting moment in history, as aircraft certifications and infrastructure developers push ahead – UTM technologies are the key to unlocking the full potential of AAM.”
The runway for 2023
With the support of EnterpriseSG, Heron Airbridge will further its work in developing and advancing enabling technologies for the drones and AAM sectors. The company aims to develop the AirBridge platform further to support a range of industry applications and OEMs including vertiport and drone logistics operations, expand into other markets and accelerate the company’s work with end-users. Heron Airbridge will also be working towards ISO27001:2013 certification to strengthen and validate the cyber security of Airbridge.
Concurrently, Heron AirBridge will continue its work in regulatory development and the integration of drones into each locality’s shared airspace with its partners, with a focus on Asia-Pacific and Europe. To raise the standards for global AAM technology solutions, Heron AirBridge is committed to gaining certification by EASA to provide U-Space services in Europe, after the U-Space regulation framework comes into force in January 2023.
Heron AirBridge will mark its first appearance in a global conference at Airspace World 2023 from 8 to 10 March 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland. At the event expo, the company will showcase its AirBridge platform and the latest technology capabilities in the air traffic management industry.