Argyll’s Oban Airport is supporting beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) medical delivery trials between Lorn and Islands District General Hospital, in Oban, and Mull and Iona Community Hospital, Craignure, Isle of Mull. According to a news release by Argyll Bute Council, Skyports plans to fly its delivery drones beyond visual line of sight, along a 17km route south from Oban and then north-west to the north coast of the Isle of Mull during a trial from 25 May – 5 June. This will be during the working week and within daylights hours only.
Skyports is using delivery drones supplied by Wingcopter, and the drone management platform is provided by Thales subsidiary Soarizon. Flock is the drone delivery insurance provider.
The proposed airspace for the trials is outside the flight restricted zone airspace around the airport, however during the trial period, Oban Airport will relay safety messages to any aircraft in the vicinity. The team at the airport is providing back up to Skyports, a London-based drone delivery service.
The two-week trial represents a key milestone for unmanned aviation in the UK. Under current rules, drones must be flown within visual line of sight of the remote pilot. To undertake these extended flights, Flock’s project team worked closely with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Flock says its collaboration with industry bodies and data-driven approach to insurance supports its understanding the challenges associated with Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights around the world.
The project is designed to support NHS logistics operations to help provide front-line staff with the necessary equipment to do their jobs safely and to help keep hard-to-reach communities provisioned with essential medical care.
This is not the first time the airport has been involved in research with drones. Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMs), located close to Oban airport, has a department that is dedicated to drone research. Oban airport has been working in partnership with SAMS on research and development of drone activities.
(Image: Oban Airport)
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