Kenya set to launch drone logistics network

Three drone logistics companies have come together to launch a drone logistics networks in the east African nation of Kenya.

Australian medical drone services company Swoop Aero, Kenyan air logistics specialist Astral Aviation and UK autonomous aerial mobility (AAM) services provider Skyports have announced that they will be embarking on a drone logistics network that will see the three delivering various parcels around Kenya.

Astral Aviation runs a drone subsidiary, Astral Aerial Solutions, which says it dreams of providing low cost and efficient unmanned aviation solutions for last mile deliveries to remote areas across the African continent. The company offers drone services for the logistics, aerial photography, aerial surveillance reconnaissance, inspections among other industries.

Swoop Aero already boasts of experience operating drone logistics networks in seven countries – including the African skies in the DR Congo, Malawi and Mozambique – and their contribution to the consortium will be transporting medicines, vaccines, and medical samples between healthcare facilities and patients in need across Kenya, beginning with last-mile delivery by the end of 2022.

Skyports, on the other hand, owns passenger and cargo vertiports in urban environments and works closely with vehicle manufacturers and operators, city authorities, regulators and real estate partners to build landing infrastructure in suitable and convenient locations across cities, to create resilient infrastructure networks which enable safe and efficient operations of passenger and cargo drones.

The company has had some experience on the Kenyan airspace, having signed a memorandum of understanding with Kenya Airways last April. Besides, it already has another tripartite partnership going on with Swoop Aero and Germany company BD Rowa, which should put the two in good stead working together on their latest get together.

The two companies have also worked together in delivering and distributing COVID-19 commodities across the UK, saving over 11,000 hours of pathology wait time with flights spanning a distance of 14,000km.

“These operations present a first for the region, encompassing the first Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flight and operation demonstration approvals, launched in close coordination with the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority to ensure safety and compliance with local regulations,” Swoop Aero said in a statement.

“Swoop Aero will deploy its complete technology infrastructure and drone logistics experience in this latest endeavour with local Kenyan experts Astral Aerial Solutions operating the network, closely in partnership with drone infrastructure provider, Skyports, to rapidly improve access to routine and emergency medicine, vaccines and pathology in the region.”

The statement added that the partnership presented a significant opportunity to scale up drone integration into the Kenyan healthcare system to improve access to healthcare across Kenya, with capacity for the scalable and sustainable provision of services and supplies.

Initial operations will focus on medical supplies and the healthcare sector, in which Swoop Aero will be charged with developing additional applications for drone logistics across the country in the coming months. The company says its Kite drones will also offer additional services like real-time tracking, capture, and analytics, as well as enable additional cross-industry functionalities, including aerial mapping and monitoring, search and rescue capabilities, as well as emergency response and disaster management.

“We’re excited to be expanding Swoop Aero’s service in Kenya in partnership with Astral Aerial Solutions and Skyports, in what will be a first for the region,” said Eric Peck, CEO of Swoop Aero. “Kenya represents the fourteenth country in which the Swoop Aero technology platform has underpinned BVLOS drone logistics regulatory approvals. The regulatory approvals and operations will bring Swoop Aero closer to providing an integrated drone logistics service to 100 million people by 2025.”

With its native experience of the Kenyan landscape and operating environment, Astral Aerial Solutions is set to bring invaluable lived-in experience to the partnership.

“We’re excited to be coming together with Skyports and Swoop Aero to offer last-mile delivery solutions in Kenya,” said Kush Gadhia, CEO Astral Aerial Solutions. “This partnership presents a unique opportunity to reduce delivery times and increase accessibility to healthcare and other industries that may support drone logistics into the future.”

The company says it has already successfully coordinated with the national airspace regulator (KCAA), to ensure that operations will fall in line with the Kenyan RPAS regulations and that they meet safety and security standards.

“Astral Aerial Solutions is also proud to be the first drone operator to secure Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight and operation demonstration approvals!”

Skyports’ Director Drone Services, Alex Brown expressed his company’s excitement at hooking up with Swoop Aero again and working with Astral Aerial in the latest venture.

“This week Astral Aerial Solutions, Swoop Aero and Skyports flew Kenya’s first Beyond Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone deliveries, he said. “These first flights represent the key first step of our plan to bring drone deliveries to Kenyan communities, improving connectivity, logistics and healthcare.”

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