Swoop Aero gets okay in Oz for global remote drone pilot center

Swoop Aero drone

Talk about beyond visual line of sight. Swoop Aero has won approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA) to operate a centralized facility that will allow employees of the drone delivery company to remotely pilot up to five different UAVs over three different continents at once.

Swoop Aero made the announcement today, calling approval to run the Remote Operations Centre (ROC) a major asset “to strengthen and streamline international” activity. It said the facility will allow it to run its expanding drone delivery activities more like a global airline by centralizing its operational and navigational tech in one place, thereby enhancing the network’s visibility and efficiency world-wide. The company is expected to locate the ROC at its headquarters in Melbourne.

Never lacking in ambition, Swoop Aero also noted in the announcement that it expects to swiftly scale operations of the ROC, and increase the ratio of delivery drones in flight to remote pilots overseeing them to 30:1. 

ReadSwoop Aero plans urban drone delivery network in New Zealand 

To do that, Swoop Aero will expand its use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) as an interface with air traffic control and uncrewed traffic management systems to avert encounters with other UAVs or passenger craft. The company already relies on AWS for its drone deliveries of medical supplies in Africa. Those flights, as well as services Swoop Aero provides in Europe and Oceania, will soon be orchestrated from the ROC.

“CASA’s approval to operate drones through the Remote Operations Centre marks a significant milestone for Swoop Aero,” said Eric Peck, Swoop Aero CEO. “Using AWS increased our scalability and delivery, and the direct support from the AWS team was key to our success over the past two years. As a result, we improved delivery speed, accessibility, availability of health supplies, and patient outcomes.”

In addition to its direct oversight of drone deliveries around the world, Swoop Aero’s ROC will be used an educational resource to train new pilots from around the world, and provide advanced instruction to confirmed fliers. That program will be operated with existing partners, including the African Drone and Data Academy, which will recruit and train new employees needed to scale Swoop Aero networks in Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, and Sierra Leone.

Related: Swoop Aero’s medical drone delivery work in DRC hailed as life-saver 

The ROC will also cover beyond visual line of sight operations Swoop Aero expects the CASA to approve later this year for the Australian states of Victoria and Queensland – the latter of which the company has been operating drone deliveries of medical supplies in since last year. Company officials believe the new center will facilitate swifter expansion of health care and commercial activities at home and abroad.

 “The ROC will serve as an important function to foster complete visibility of drone operations,” said Zachary Kennedy, Swoop Aero’s chief regulatory officer. “From a regulatory perspective, the ROC ensures Swoop Aero is meeting the highest aviation and safety standards at a global level.”


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