SkyfloX – monitor our planet with sensors smartly mounted on airline fleets

17/09/2018 2881 views 3 likes
ESA / Applications / Telecommunications & Integrated Applications / Technology Transfer

Dutch ESA BIC Noordwijk start-up company SkyfloX offers a cost effective monitoring of the Earth by sensors riding piggyback on commercial airlines. Meet SkyfloX at ESA's Start-ups Zone powered by ESA space solutions at IAC 2018.

SkyfloX has developed a system based on sensors mounted on airliner´s aircraft to provide a variety of Earth observations and telecommunication services.

The Earth observation sensor is mounted under the aircraft to image the ground underneath along the flight path.

Airplanes over central Europe
Airplanes over central Europe

With over 10millions flights a year over Europe it allows for multiple daily revisits over most of Europe, with even the fleet of a single airline company providing a significant coverage potential.

These sensors can be used for early detection of forest fires break out, rapid assessment of calamity impact zones to aid disaster response units, detection of oil spills, monitoring of forest yield and growth, and much more.

The SkyfloX product concept
The SkyfloX product concept

Based on ESA space patent 
The technology concept ORCA patented by ESA has been licensed to SkyfloX. ORCA stands for ”Optical and RF Constellation on Aircraft”. It proposes to use commercial aircraft as a ‘platform’ to carry small satellite equipment (<20Kg) on the aircraft, with several equipped forming a ‘constellation’ for Earth observation and telecommunication services.


The equipment will be fully EASA certified, will not interfere with regular aircraft operations, and will be operated by the ORCA operator, thus it will operate without interventions required by the pilot or aviation operator.

ORCA complements existing space-based Earth observation solutions, by realising a sub-orbital constellation capable of supplying wide coverage earth observation data with high spatial and temporal resolution, in a sustainable and affordable manner.

A steady stream of ancillary revenues for the airlines

SkyfloX and partners pay for the equipment, the mounting on the aircraft and the airline companies to carry the equipment.

The equipment below the aircraft to monitor the Earth is very small, weighing less than a small suitcase, and will therefore have negligent impact on the aircraft aerodynamics. Basically, Skyflox is a 'free' increase in cash for the airline companies.

ESA BIC Noordwijk boosts the spin-off

SkyfloX is hosted at ESA Business Incubation Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, where the team is supported to spin-off the ESA ORCA patent.

The technical feasibility of the SkyfloX system was confirmed by ESA funded studies and several major airline companies have confirmed there business interest in the system.

The next ESA co-funded activity will comprise certification, followed by tests on commercial airliners to take place in the upcoming pilot expected to be in 2020. SkyfloX will be raising a series A financing rounds by end of 2018.

World's largest ecosystem for space-related entrepreneurship
ESA’s Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Programme Office (TTPO) operates the ‘ESA space solutions’ network of Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs) and Technology Transfer Brokers offering complete access to all aspects of space-related innovation, technology and intellectual properties and is a gateway to ESA and European space research and developments.

Today, there are 20 ESA BICs in 17 European countries – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and UK – forming the largest ecosystem in the world for space-related entrepreneurship.

Over 650 start-ups have been fostered and another 150 new start-ups are taken in yearly at ESA BICs to be supported under the two-years business development boosting programme.

Visit “Start-ups Zone powered by ESA space solutions”
Meet all the start-ups from 1 October until 5 October at the dedicated Start-ups Zone powered by ESA space solutions at IAC 2018 area at IAC 2018.

The SkyfloX entrepreneurs will be at the Start-ups Zone at IAC 2018 from 3 October noon until 5 October, and be pitching their business 4 October.