German drone company Wingcopter and US medical UAV services provider Spright have deepened their relationship with a new deal for electric vertical takeoff and (eVTOL) aerial delivery craft valued at $16 million dollars.
Under the agreement, Spright commits to buying a “large” but unspecified number of its German partner’s flagship Wingcopter 198 eVTOL drones for use in its rising US medical drone delivery activity. It also designates Wingcopter as the exclusive supplier of fixed-wing craft to Spright, which was created last July as the UAV affiliate of medical aerial transport company Air Methods. Meanwhile, the accord makes Spright the sole maintenance, repair, and overhaul provider for the Wingcopter 198 to third parties in the US.
Launched as Air Methods’ specialized UAV unit, Spright seeks to improve healthcare access and minimize supply challenges for customers across the US, operating primarily in remote or rural areas. To do that, the company is developing its sector-specific US delivery network by leveraging its existing infrastructure of more than 300 bases, serving hundreds of hospitals across 48 states.
Flying those missions will be the Wingcopter 198 eVTOL drone, which is designed to provide maximum flexibility and ease of use in delivery operations. Its tilt-rotor technology allows for efficient forward flight over ranges of up to 68 miles. It reaches maximum speeds of 90 mph, and can transport payloads of up to 13 lbs. Spright calls the craft ideal for its medical UAV transport activities, while requiring minimal infrastructure creation or adaptation at either end of bidirectional delivery flights.
“We are fortunate to have Wingcopter on board as our aircraft technology partner,” said Spright president Joseph Resnik in announcing the deal. “With their industry-leading eVTOL aircraft design, Wingcopter brings a level of maturity needed to address the complex and diverse demands of the US healthcare market. We are confident that our combined strengths will deliver innovative, time-saving solutions to meet the needs of our customers and their communities.”
Spright’s Kansas-based client Hutchinson Regional Health System has been selected for initial testing of the partnered medical drone delivery network of Wingcopter 198 eVTOL craft. That operation is expected to be broadened across the US during 2022 as Spright welcomes new regional healthcare customers to its current list.
Objectives of that activity will be to increase healthcare access across rural and underserved communities through fast, on-demand drone delivery of vital medical supplies, medications, vaccines, blood, and lab samples. It also intends to improve quality of care for patients through faster turnaround times of lab samples, and more targeted treatments for patients. Use of Wingcopter eVTOL craft, meanwhile, allows omissions-free operation powered by sustainably generated electrical sources.
“This multimillion-dollar commercial agreement with Spright is a clear proof that the Wingcopter 198 has a perfect product-market-fit,” said Wingcopter CEO Tom Plümmer of the new US activity. “The projected compound annual growth rate for the drone delivery market of more than 50%, to a total volume of almost $40 billion in 2030, underlines the rapid adoption of eVTOL technology for last-mile logistics. We are happy to be at the forefront of this fast-growing market together with Spright.”
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