Eight months after halting drone deliveries of healthcare consignments, Swiss Post is set to resume operations at the end of January 2020, according to a report in The Verge. Services in Lugano, Berne and Zurich first started in 2017 in cooperation with drone manufacturer Matternet, transporting medical consignments faster than by road, but were suspended following emergency landings on two occasions.
Swiss Post and Matternet set up an independent board of experienced aviation specialists to review the companies’ safety procedures and operations and provide suggestions for improvements, reports The Verge. “According to Michel Guilluame, one of the members of the review board, there are no reasons why flight operations should not be resumed”. The board recommends four changes to operations:
- Matternet should implement the new safety recommendations set by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) and the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) following the previous crashes
- The establishment of an independent oversight body for safety-related processes before the end of March 2020
- Swiss Post given more control over the actual drone operations (which are currently run by Matternet), including the ability to audit Matternet’s drone operations
- Improved safety protocols for Matternet, including the hiring of a dedicated head of safety.
The Verge says Matternet has already implemented safety recommendations and hired a head of safety, and the review board will continue to advise the companies on their drone policies in the future. The two companies have also run over 2,000 test flights in Switzerland since May 2019 using drones that should be less prone to failure.
Swiss Post introduced additional requirements for drone manufacturers in 2019, including:
- Parachute ropes are reinforced with metal braiding
- Parachutes are attached with two ropes rather than one
- The whistle to alert third parties in the case of an emergency landing is made louder
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