Skyports, Swoop Aero, Astral Aerial Solutions partner in Kenya’s first BVLOS medical drone deliveries

drone deliveries medical supplies

Drone service companies Skyports and Swoop Aero are extending their past partnerships to Kenya, where they’ve teamed up with local UAV operator Astral Aerial Solutions in a series of the nation’s first beyond line of sight (BVLOS) delivery trials to prepare for regular transport of medical supplies.

London-based Skyports and Melbourne-headquartered Swoop Aero have hooked up in multiple partnerships previously, most involving aerial transportation in the UK and Europe. Their work with Kenya’s Astral Aerial Solutions will take that shared activity to Africa, where Swoop Aero has vast experience using UAVs to extend access to healthcare to remote communities across the continent. 

To that end, the trio has been testing what they say are the first BVLOS flights in Kenya to ready the rollout next year of regularly operated drone deliveries of medical supplies to underserved communities.

ReadOz’s Swoop Aero and UK Skyports to broaden drone delivery network in Europe, Americas 

The trio said their initial focus will be providing last-mile drone deliveries of medical supplies for Kenya’s healthcare sector. As it expands, the plans are to offer supplementary transportation services to a broader number of actors in the industry, and with links to it.

“We’re proud to be expanding operations in Kenya in partnership with Astral Aerial Solutions and Skyports, in what will be a first for the region,” said Swoop Aero CEO Eric Peck. “Swoop Aero’s integrated drone logistics platform will enable bi-directional air logistics, launching rapid delivery of emergency and routine medicines, vaccines and pathology samples, creating emotional and economic impact to communities in the networks.”

The collective project will be led by Astral Aerial Solutions, drawing on its experience providing agricultural, mapping and survey services. The holder of Kenya’s first BVLOS flight certification by civil aviation authorities to boot, the company will operate Swoop Aero’s drone logistics platform, working closely with Swoop Aero and Skyports as it does.

“We’re proud to be leading the way for BVLOS drone deliveries in Kenya,” commented Astral Aerial Solutions CEO Kush Gadhia. “Every day, we demonstrate the cost and time benefits generated by drone flight through our existing VLOS operations. With the launch of BVLOS drone delivery operations, we will also demonstrate the tangible human benefits.”

Read moreSwoop Aero’s medical drone delivery work in DRC hailed as life-saver 

Both the shared and respective backgrounds of Skyports and Swoop Aero in operating BVLOS networks for medical drone deliveries should be of great value to the venture. The pair worked together transporting critical anti-pandemic supplies – including vaccines – to remote UK locations during COVID-19 spikes there, and have similarly joined forces in Europe. 

Last year, meanwhile, Skyports attained certification to fly BVLOS operations across the European Union by virtue of ope-ended approval it obtained in members state, Ireland. For its part, Swoop Aero not only oversees expanding drone delivery networks of medical supplies across Africa, but in May got the green light from Australian authorities to operate a remote control navigational center from its Melbourne HQ for its UAV activities around the globe.

Read moreSwoop Aero gets okay in Oz for global remote drone pilot center 

Together, the partners have deep operational and regulatory expertise in Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe, and obtained BVLOS approval in 12 different countries.

 “Having launched the UK’s first BVLOS drone delivery operations, we are very aware of the challenges and requirements of such projects,” said Alex Brown, head of Skyports’ UAV delivery operations. “We also know the massive benefit that drone deliveries can bring to rural communities.”

The trio began testing their drone delivery project with over 50 flights in May, and plan to have regular aerial transport of medical supplies running in Kenya sometime in early 2023.

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