German airport operator Fraport has partnered with start-up Hybrid-Airplane Technologies (HAT) to trial a hybrid aerial vehicle at Frankfurt Airport.

The trial consisted of a small helium-filled hybrid aerial vehicle, H-Aero, which floated through Halls D and E at Terminal 2 for four days between 28 and 31 October.

The aerial vehicle is made of a helium-filled, lens-shaped balloon that helps it stay in the air. It has wings that can direct it in all directions.

Aiming to reduce the burden on airport officials to check terminals, the vehicle uses images to allows employees to survey the area while staying at their desks.

During the trial, H-Aero followed a specific route in the terminal and employed a thermal imaging camera to transfer images of the terminal.

In the future, H-Aero will be capable of reporting any issues using AI technology, the companies said.

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Fraport airside and terminal management, corporate safety and security head Alexander Laukenmann explained: “The use of innovative technology plays a pivotal role in all areas of airport operations, including ensuring traffic safety in our check-in halls.

“At Frankfurt Airport, we are already experimenting with technologies that many still consider to be in the realms of science fiction. The H-Aero innovative flight concept is a good example. We believe it has various potential applications that we will continue to investigate in the next stages.”

Hybrid-Airplane Technologies CEO Csaba Singer said: “Innovation has a real chance of success only if it is used to simplify processes and only if passengers and employees see it as socially acceptable.

“We have successfully demonstrated that both are possible over the past four days in Terminal 2 of Frankfurt Airport in what was a genuine world first.”

In July, Fraport agreed to deploy FlightAware’s real-time predictive technology at Frankfurt Airport to further optimise flight operations.