Japan transport ministry approves Japan Post BVLOS delivery flight over inhabited areas

Japan Post has completed an beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) delivery flight without visual observers over inhabited areas following flight approval from the Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in March 2023. The approval enabled Japan Post to conduct a trial delivery of packages in Okutama-cho, Tokyo, using BVLOS flight without assistance (Level 4) on flight routes including over third parties (inhabited areas), according to Japan’s UAS Industrial Development Association (JUIDA).

Using ACSL drone “PF2-CAT3”, the flight took off from the roof of the Japan Post Okutama Post Office in the center of Okutama Town, followed a route of about 2km north-northwest along the slope of the mountain, and landed at a village at an altitude of 480m. It was a route of 4.5km and a total flight time of 9 minutes. “PF2-CAT3” is positioned as category III flight (for Level 4 operations). It is equipped with two redundant GNSS antennas and with a parachute in case of a crash. The parachute uses the drone emergency parachute “PARASAFE” developed by Nippon Kayaku.

In 2017, the public-private council for improving the environment for small UAS announced that the realization of “BVLOS flights in manned areas (above third parties)” would occur “around 2020.”
This flight is one of the achievements of system improvement and technology development that the public and private sectors have been working on since then. Japan Post’s Drone Delivery Initiative started in 2017.

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