A new drone partnership is to implement first-of-its-kind autonomous deliveries in Kenya to support the country’s health sector.

Kenyan drone operator, Astral Aerial Solutions, autonomous drone technology developer and network operator Swoop Aero, and Skyports have announced that they have conducted Kenya’s first Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone deliveries.

Drone deliveries by 2023

These flights represent a major step for drone logistics in Kenya and are the key first step in the partnership’s plans to launch permanent drone deliveries by early 2023.

The partnership will provide last-mile drone operations for the health sector to transport critical medical cargo, including samples, vaccines and medicines, to healthcare facilities across hard to reach regions of Kenya.

The project will be led by Astral Aerial Solutions, an experienced provider of drone services in Kenya for agricultural, mapping and survey purposes, and the first drone operator to be awarded BVLOS flight certification by the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

Experienced providers

Astral Aerial Solutions will operate Swoop Aero’s integrated drone logistics platform and work closely in partnership with both Swoop Aero and Skyports, experienced drone service providers with ongoing commercial BVLOS drone operations across Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

The partners have deep operational and regulatory expertise having received BVLOS regulatory approvals across 12 countries globally.

The partnership launched initial flights in May 2022, with the completion of over 50 test flights. Permanent drone delivery operations are set to begin by the beginning of next year.

‘Tangible human benefits’

Kush Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aerial Solutions, said: “We’re proud to be leading the way for BVLOS drone deliveries in Kenya. 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.

“Working with Swoop Aero and Skyports, we’ve gained invaluable insight from leaders in the BVLOS drone delivery industry. We are eager to get started with full time operations by Q1 2023.”

Benefits for rural communities

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

“We have created an incredible partnership with Astral – the leaders in Kenyan drone operations and Swoop Aero – our long time technology partners – to bring safe, efficient and cost-effective drone deliveries to rural Kenya.”

‘First for the region’

Eric Peck, CEO & Co-founder of Swoop Aero, said: “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.

“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.”

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