In 1911, the Wright Brothers performed the first motorized flight. Very soon after that, they and other early aviation enthusiasts discovered that flying is not without risk. Many young pioneers lost their lives in airplane crashes. Legislators realized that a new set of rules were necessary to make flying safe and useful. Over the years, a comprehensive international set of regulations were created to address the issues of flight safety. Aircraft must comply with strict reliability requirements and must be certified before they can be used. Airmen must undergo rigorous training and must be medically sound in order to be allowed to fly aircraft and must have a pilot license. Aircraft operators must adhere to strict procedures. Indisputably, safety is paramount and on the top of the minds of everyone who is active in aviation.
Technological evolution has made it possible for just about everyone to own drones and send them aloft. First, there were a few. Now there are many. The aviation system, however, was never designed to cater for the large amounts of small unmanned vehicles flying at very low levels. The challenge for the industry now is to ensure cohabitation of both manned and unmanned in a safe manner. And that is what Unifly stands for. 'Unifly wants to bridge the gap between manned and unmanned aviation.'
In 2012, two military air traffic controllers brought a futuristic idea to VITO (Flemish institute for technological research) where Unifly was then later spun off from in 2015. They are based in Antwerp along with additional facilities at New York, and Denmark. Unifly's vision is anchored in building the technology that is needed to integrate drone traffic into the airspace. The company that helps to shape a future in which drones will be able to operate safely, thereby taking into account the needs of all stakeholders. Henceforth, Unifly is leading light to address, 'The Future of Unmanned Traffic Management – Applied today'.
'Unifly wants to bridge the gap between manned and unmanned aviation.'
Marc Kegelaers, CEO, Unifly
An experienced, multilingual business owner and executive in an international environment, Marc Kegelaers is the CEO of Unifly. He joined Unifly as a shareholder and Chief Executive in 2015 with the objective of making it a world leader in the area of Air Traffic and Operations Management for Drones.
After a successful international career as a serial entrepreneur in the Telecommunication Industry, he got involved in Aviation 15 years ago. For a period of ten years, he served as the co-owner and CEO and Accountable manager of BAFA (Ben Air Flight Academy) – and made it to the leading Aviation Academy in Belgium. He got involved in unmanned aviation in 2014 when starting the successful Drone University at BAFA. He has been a board member of the Chamber of Commerce in Antwerp and Visiting, and Professor at the Vives Aeronautical College in Ostend.
He is a member of the board of GUTMA - the Global UTM Association and has a strong background in Product Management, International Sales, Sales Management, General Management, Corporate Strategy and dealing with the financing community. He holds a Master’s degree in Electronic Engineering, Master’s Degree in Business Administration, has an EASA Commercial Pilot License and is an experienced Flight Instructor.
The high-paced technology company has developed an award-winning UTM software platform. Unifly’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform connects authorities with operators to integrate drones into the airspace. The platform provides a comprehensive set of solutions for the needs of recreational drone users, professional drone operators, rescues services, police, local authorities, air traffic control organizations, and aviation authorities. This includes weather information, NOTAMs, obstacles, no-fly zones, map navigation, adapt to local and national regulations, and more to provide reliable and trustworthy data for users location. The Unifly platform combines all these data to validate and manage flights in real-time.
The core of the UTM is a database application that has been designed on a distributed, high-speed, fault-tolerant, open cloud-based architecture. Again the platform has as an extremely powerful system that would be able to scale up very rapidly and support very large numbers of vehicles while maintaining the technical and safety standards in aviation.
‘Change is the essence of Unifly. We are the link between the drone sector and the aviation sector.’
Recognized for Excellence
Unify is involved in 12 European Research/Demonstration projects. In the USA, they are approved by FAA and are involved in two projects. In Japan, they won two development projects and implemented the first Drone Corridor in Africa. Their software is being used as the basis of the NATIONAL UTM system in 4 countries namely - Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Belgium. For all the work they have done, Unify has received honors like:-
• SWIM Master Class 2014. • Nacht van de KMO / Night of the SME: Most Promising Company of 2016. • EU Drone Awards: Best Emerging Drone Company 2017. • Tech Startup Day: Scale-up of the Year 2017. • Luciad Geospatial Excellence Awards: Best Aviation Application. • Infosecurity Tech Startup of the Year 2018. • Datanews Start-up Company Award for Excellence. • Unizo Provincial Most Promising SME 2018.
Over the next few years, Unifly aims to grow to a multi-national company with more than 200 employees, and offices on all continents. The company will continue building its technology (UTM) that is an essential part of the 4th industrial wave which will enable a change in many industries and in society. It is the technology that is a must have to enable the drone industry. In the future, they may enter the markets of unmanned ships and autonomous cars. But as for now, Unifly intends to become the go-to company when organizations and governments need - Unmanned Traffic Management!
Uniflyintends to become the go-to company when organizations and governments need - Unmanned Traffic Management!