The Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) has placed drone operator DroneQ Robotics under enhanced supervision as a result of a number of demo flights with a hydrogen drone. The ILT sees hydrogen as a hazardous substance, which means that additional exemptions are needed to fly on this fuel. According to John Troch of DroneQ Robotics, that tends to have a reverse legal view.

Tightened supervision

The demo flights in question with the Doosan Mobility Innovation hydrogen drone were carried out at the end of October. According to Troch, legal advice was sought prior to the flights.

Nevertheless, the ILT believes that the requirements were not met. “The Environment and Transport Inspectorate was only informed about this afterwards with incomplete and – as it turned out later – partly incorrect information. The flights were carried out with an unapproved hydrogen drone in, among others, the CTR of the military aviation area De Kooy, the no-fly Zone of Texel and in the Eemshaven. During a number of flights, packages were also dropped, while that is also prohibited. For these reasons, the ILT puts the relevant permit holder under enhanced supervision,” reports a spokesperson.

According to the ILT, the operator concerned must now report all flights to the ILT in advance, even if they are allowed to operate these flights according to the ROC permit and the operating manual. The increased supervision of the operator in question remains in force after the conversion of the ROC licence to European regulations and takes at least half a year.

Additional requirements

According to John Troch of DroneQ Robotics, with the information available at the time of the preparations, flying on hydrogen was not explicitly prohibited in the regulations, and the ILT tends to reverse legal view. “The ILT sees hydrogen as a hazardous substance, despite the fact that hydrogen is not mentioned as such in the regulations. It’s like a reverse legal view. Not innocent unless proven otherwise, but the other way around.”


request, the ILT states that flying on hydrogen is not prohibited in itself, but that additional requirements are made: “Use is not prohibited, but conditions must be met. Additional inspections and an operating permit are necessary to fly with a hydrogen drone in the Netherlands. The ROC licence holder did not offer this device for inspection.”

Shedding packages

Regarding the ‘shedding of packages’, Troch states that it was a life jacket, which was released by a drone near a ‘drowning’ (a Rescue Brigade professional) during the demonstration.” We designed a 2-stage system where safety comes first: first the life jacket hangs under the drone, after which we descend until the life jacket is safely on the water near the drowning, only then the cord is released. The goal is to save people and increase their chances of survival, which we do in the most secure way.”

Regarding other development processes with the transport of packages, according to Troch, there is no question of shedding. “The cargo drone delivery is completely different in design. There lands the device where the cargo is in the aircraft. After the device is completely off, someone can manually remove the cargo from the aircraft. There, the drone therefore only serves for the transport of packages and not for shedding them.”

More clarity

Troch is looking forward to the future with confidence, and wants to continue developing Robotics with hydrogen and drone delivery from DroneQ. “We have been in close contact with the ILT over the past few weeks. ‘Sharpens oversight’ means that we must register our flights with them. So we have to submit the operational flight plans that we always make anyway.”

Troch also emphasizes that it is good that more clarity is now given from the ILT. “The positive thing about this development is that there will be more clarity for the drone industry as a whole where it concerns the development of hydrogen in relation to drones. We sincerely think that hydrogen as a drone fuel is important towards the future and, as DroneQ Robotics, we want to do our modest part to this, of course within the framework of the applicable laws and regulations.”