Fast-moving UK drone delivery and infrastructure developer Skyports has obtained authorization to operate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions in Ireland that don’t require any additional clearances – purportedly the first open-ended approval ever granted in the country or Europe.
One of the world’s leading and quickest-growing providers of drone delivery services and advance air mobility (AAM) infrastructure, Skyports announced on Wednesday it had obtained the self-authorizing BVLOS permit from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). Specifically, that Light UAS Operator Certificate (LUC) allows Skyports to conduct BVLOS flights in the country as its business requires, and without having to seek approval prior to each mission as is generally the case. The London-based company says it’s one of just a handful of firms around the globe that has been granted what amounts to BVLOS carte blanche.
Skyports also calls its LUC the first-ever accorded by a European Union regulator. And because Ireland is a member of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency that collectively recognizes flight authorizations granted by individual states, its Irish BVLOS drone delivery approval will be applicable across Europe. That, the company says, will greatly facilitate its plans to expand its drone delivery services across the continent, particularly in medical, maritime, and logistics sectors where it’s been most active.
“The Light UAS Operator Certificate creates new opportunities for Skyports in Europe – one of our key markets,” says Skyports CEO Duncan Walker. “Obtaining certification is a landmark moment for our drone delivery business that will enable us to deploy our service more efficiently and meet our customers’ needs more quickly. Receipt of an LUC is also an enormous privilege for us as a safety organization and reflects our commitment to achieving the very highest safety standards wherever we operate.”
Will Irish approval of Skyports’ BVLOS drone delivery flights in Europe kick off a boom of activity across Europe?
Irish officials characterized the approval as opening the gates for what they expect will be a bustling and successful wave of BVLOS drone delivery activity across the European Union (EU).
“We are delighted to be the first regulator in the EU to issue a beyond visual line of sight Light UAS Operator Certificate,” comments Diarmuid Ó Conghaile, CEO designate of the IAA. “It is an exciting development for the European drone sector, in this case providing Skyports with groundbreaking access to a European market of 500 million potential customers.”
The milestone BVLOS certification marks an additional coup in a recent series of successes in Skyports’ drone delivery business, as well as its conception and construction of AAM facilities around the world.
The advent of COVID-19 created unexpected opportunities for the group. In partnership with authorities, for example, Skyports began testing, then operating regular flights of medical supplies to remote UK destinations. It later also started making drone delivery runs to and from the Isles of Scilly for the Royal Mail.
In August, Skyports considerably reinforced its partnership with Australian craft manufacturer Swoop Aero in those UK activities, with the objective of its BVLOS drone delivery operations across Europe, Asia, and North America. It has similarly strung together a flurry of deals to build AAM infrastructure in Asia, as well as an air taxi veliport as part of the redevelopment of an entire North London neighborhood.
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