Remotely-piloted aircraft system (RPAS) surveillance of the maritime environment is a service that the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has been tasked to set-up on behalf of EU and EFTA Member States as from 2017. Accordingly, EMSA has signed four framework contracts with RPAS service providers. The first contract was signed with a consortium led by the Portuguese Air Force (FAP), together with Deimos Engenharia and UAVision. It is for an operational service to monitor ship emissions in support of the implementation of Annex VI of MARPOL. This establishes legally-binding international standards to regulate specific emissions and discharges generated by ships e.g. SOx.
Following a request from a Member State authority, the consortium will be responsible for monitoring the atmospheric pollution caused by maritime traffic up to 50km from the shore of an EU country. EMSA, in close liaison with the MS concerned, will define the operational framework. The areas of operation can be extended outside EU adjacent seas upon common agreement.
The consortium will be responsible for monitoring the atmospheric pollution caused by maritime traffic up to 50km from the shore of an EU country
The flight proven UAVision platforms, combined with extensive operational experience of FAP, will be used for measuring the SO2 and CO2 levels emitted by ships, using different sensors ranging from optical cameras (with visible and infrared payloads) to gas sensors for air quality monitoring. The platform will also include an AIS transponder for vessel detection and identification. Deimos Engenharia is responsible for coordinating and handling all the data generated by the sensors and for the interfaces with EMSA and other users, and also supports FAP in all operational activities and service management.
This is a framework contract awarded for two years, renewable, and is the result of an open Invitation to Tender launched by the Agency in April that included two batches: lot-1 (mainly for sea surface oil pollution monitoring up to 80km) and lot-2 for vessel’s air emissions monitoring. It is in the latter that a contract was won by FAP, Deimos Engenharia and UAVision.
The first flights are expected in the first quarter of 2017. This activity is expected to be EMSA’s first step to use RPAS for the provision of integrated maritime and pollution response services within the Agency’s operational tasks.