German drone delivery company Wingcopter and Spright, a subsidiary of leading American air medical service provider Air Methods, announced a new commercial agreement today on January 24th worth more than US$ 16 million.
As part of the deal, Spright is acquiring a large fleet of Wingcopter’s new flagship delivery drone, the Wingcopter 198, to meet the increasing demand for medical drone delivery solutions throughout the United States. The contract makes Wingcopter the exclusive provider of fixed wing eVTOL delivery drone technology to Spright for use within its United States operations. Spright, in turn, becomes the exclusive provider of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) for the Wingcopter 198 to third parties in the USA.
Spright was launched in July of 2020 as the new drone division of Air Methods to improve healthcare access and minimize supply challenges for customers across the US. To this end, Spright is creating a drone-based, healthcare-specific delivery network in the United States leveraging an existing infrastructure of more than 300 bases, serving hundreds of hospitals, across 48 states in predominantly rural areas.
The agreement further strengthens the strategic partnership between the two companies that was announced in August 2021. Spright is closely supporting Wingcopter in its FAA UAS type-certification process, leveraging the Spright team’s extensive aviation experience operating both FAA 121 and 135 air carriers, its existing Part 135 certificate (on-demand air service), SMS (Safety Management System) Program, and long-standing relationships with the FAA.
Spright is collaborating with Hutchinson Regional Health System, in Hutchinson, Kansas, for initial tests, and plans to expand the service beyond Kansas with additional strategic medical projects later this year. The Wingcopter fleet will increase healthcare access across rural and underserved communities by enabling the instant and on-demand delivery of vital medical supplies, medications, vaccines, blood, and lab samples, between medical facilities. It will also improve quality of care for patients due to faster turn-around time of lab samples and more targeted treatments for patients.
Wingcopter and Spright will showcase the Wingcopter 198 delivery drone and offer an opportunity to meet C-level executives of both companies in person to discuss ways of collaboration or investment opportunities at logistics tech conference Manifest in Las Vegas January 25-27, 2022.
Click here to see a video of the initial tests in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Why it’s important: The partnership between Spright and Wingcopter allows for further development of eVTOL and aerial mobility enabling applications of drone technology that will both prove the current technological infrastructure’s readiness state and emphasize those areas which require more development prior to widespread implementation of passenger carrying eVTOLs. Further, an ancillary benefit of such trials is a small, but measurable, benefit to those in need of medical care or assistance that are being served today.