Drone measurements at Berlin Brandenburg Airport
A model airplane near the runway of BER Airport? In fact, what could be seen was the drone ALADINA (Application of Light-Weight Aircraft for Detecting In-situ Aerosol). In fact, the drone was an unmanned research aircraft of the Institute of Flight Guidance of the Technical University of Braunschweig. The drone was used to investigate the distribution of particulate matter. On behalf of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), the ULTRAFLEB project (ultra fine particulate pollution from airports in Berlin) is analyzing how fine particulate pollution will change as a result of the opening of the new BER airport.
For this purpose, there are long-term measurements at selected locations in the vicinity of BER airport as well as measurements of the spatial distribution on the ground with vehicles and at altitude. The data are incorporated into models used to analyze air quality in the region of Berlin.
Little particulate matter data at airports
At airports, there has been little information on the distribution of particulate matter at altitude. It is strongly dependent on meteorological conditions such as turbulent mixing, solar radiation and wind. In addition, particulate matter can accumulate under temperature inversions. ALADINA provides an opportunity to gain valuable insight in this regard.
Safety of flights monitored
In order to carry out the flights, a piece of meadow was mowed as a landing site and a gravel road was prepared as a runway.
For coordination with the air traffic controllers of the German Air Traffic Control (DFS), ALADINA was equipped with a so-called transponder, which makes the device visible to air traffic controllers and other air traffic participants. This also makes ALADINA visible to the public on the Flightradar24 website.
The exact flight area was agreed in advance with DFS so that the drone maintains sufficient safe distance from commercial aviation. "Operating a drone in the control zone while flight operations are ongoing is a new situation. The arrangement with the controllers worked out very well, and many interested residents came by to find out about the project," reports Dipl.-Ing. Lutz Bretschneider, who was responsible for takeoff and landing as well as monitoring the flights as a safety pilot.
What is ultra-fine particulates?
Ultra-fine particulates are the smallest particles of particulate matter. They are smaller than 100 nanometers (= 0.1 micrometers). And thus significantly smaller than the particulate matter usually considered, PM10 or PM2.5, which have maximum sizes of 10,000 nanometers and 2,500 nanometers, respectively. The small size means that ultrafine dust particles can penetrate the lungs particularly easily and even enter the bloodstream.
The ULTRAFLEB project (FKZ 3720 52 201 0) was commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency and will address changes in air quality caused by the commissioning of BER Airport from November 2020 to the end of 2024. The project is being carried out jointly by several partners under the coordination of the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS).
Dr. Astrid Lampert
Technische Universität Braunschweig Institut für Flugführung