Hard-charging Australian drone delivery and logistics company Swoop Aero has been granted beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) authorization to transport medical supplies in the northeast state of Queensland.
Just a week after the Melbourne-based company formalized its humanitarian supplies distribution partnership with UAVaid in Sierra Leone, Swoop Aero said it had been given permission to fly BVLOS drone deliveries of medical supplies by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). The operation will seek to increase access of medicines and other critical healthcare goods to some of the more remote communities in Queensland.
The company will begin that activity later this month at the local airport in Goondiwindi, a town on the state’s southern border with New South Wales. As a fully integrated operator of UAVs within the region’s airspace, Swoop Aero will be able to stage automated drone deliveries of medical supplies to outlying areas while maintaining full air traffic safety relative to other aircraft.
CASA’s authorization of BVLOS flights gives the green light to a project Swoop Aero first began planning in February, along with partners in the healthcare sector. Launch of those medical supply drone deliveries just now is all the more significant due to flooding and other extreme weather-related events Goondiwindi and much of southern Queensland has suffered.
“These operations will quickly connect Australian regional patients with medical supplies and equipment, including in emergency situations,” says Daniel Scandar, Australian operations managers for Swoop Aero. “Right now the region is facing flooding, and participating recipients who would traditionally be isolated, have access to on-demand critical supplies. We can also complete the circle of telehealth for rural patients by providing on-demand medical logistics via air.”
The long-distance enabling BVLOS approval is coupled with an authorization to make drone deliveries of designated “dangerous goods,” which include many critical medical supplies. As such, the development is a major step for Swoop Aero in its home market, following a series of business successes abroad.
“Today is a proud milestone for Swoop Aero,” says company CEO and cofounder Eric Peck. “The CASA approvals will see Swoop Aero drones launch right here in Australian skies. Our approvals are a testimony to our strong regulatory experience overseas, our operational excellence flying over 10,000 BVLOS missions across a number of countries and our strong operating procedures.”
The news follows a deal struck in October between the company and aerospace composites manufacturer Quickstep to construct the next generation of Swoop Aero KITE autonomous cargo craft. When the $1.5 million production run delivers the first autonomous delivery drones, the revamped KITE UAVs will carry maximum payloads of 5 kilograms at top speeds of 200 km/h over a single-charge range of 180 kilometers.
KITE drones are currently seeking Federal Aviation Administration certification for operation in the US.
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