UK based drone and aerial mobility operations company Skyports announced in a Tuesday press release that it intends on conducting trial COVID-19 response flights for the National Health Service in Scotland. The partnership will combine resources from Wingcopter for drone delivery, Thales for airspace management using the SOARIZON UTM platform, and Skyports for the operations platform to enable completion of these flights on a trial basis.

The flights are intended to delivery Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to a variety of remote medical facilities that normally require up to 6 hours of time to be reached via conventional ground methods. Utilization of the drone based delivery operation is reportedly able to cut delivery times from over 6 hours to a mere 15 minutes on an on-demand basis.

Wingcopter COVID

Wingcopter autonomous drone with PPE payload pod. Image // Skyports

Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, described the potential future applications if such a partnership and operations scheme were to become permanent: “Delivery drones are a fast and reliable solution for vital medical supplies.  Skyports is proud to assist the NHS in Scotland with their COVID-19 response, helping to provide the essential healthcare that people need in harder-to-reach areas.   Our trial in Argyll and Bute provides an important short-term response to the current pandemic and lays the foundations from which to grow a permanent drone delivery operation across a network of healthcare facilities around the country.”

The trial flights are backed by the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), which is a combined partnership between NHS Highland and Argyll and Bute Council. This partnership aims to analyze and confirm the feasibility of transport of delivering urgent medical cargo via drone. The trial will last for two weeks.

Thales CEO, Alex Cresswell, stated that “This trial demonstrates the positive role that unmanned technology can play in our society and represents a landmark step to accelerate its adoption. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with industry partners, regulators and government to establish the UK as a world leader in this exciting new industry.”

Why it’s important: The announcement of this partnership indicates the continuing progress and foundation being laid for future aerial mobility commercial operations. The required coordination to successfully host multiple on-demand, time critical deliveries of PPE and medical supplies, in concert with aviation regulatory agencies, medical institutions, and airspace management and drone hardware companies provides valuable data and operational references for future complex aerial mobility operations. A successful trial period will reinforce the approach that Thales, Wingcopter, Skyports, and the UK Civil Aviation Authority are all working towards operationalizing.

Source // Skyports Press Release

Posted by Naish Gaubatz

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