Volansi granted BVLOS approval in Senegal

Senegal may have become the first African country to open its skies for beyond the line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights for cargo delivery that is not related to emergency medical supplies.

We know we have all been accustomed to mid- and long-range drone deliveries in Africa being heavily biased towards delivering medicines; and they should too, because there are a lot of hard-to-reach places in rural Africa that had need of some left field revolutionary solutions to the perennial conundrum of medical access.

Enter Zipline. Wingcopter. Swoop Aero. AerialMetric.

With the help of various government and non-government humanitarian partners, these companies brought a new meaning to emergency medical delivery to countries that include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique and Nigeria – with drone delivery solutions that have been credited with saving a lot of lives and being one of the few reasons to smile during a time when the world has been ravaged by a pandemic.

But having made their mark in the medical delivery space, perhaps it is time cargo drone spread their wings to delivering other packages on the continent and improve employment opportunities in the drone industry.

And that is exactly what the Senegalese aviation authorities seem to have done with American cargo drone maker Volansi.

The company, which manufacturers Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) drones and offers point-to-point drone delivery services, yesterday announced it had its BVLOS flight application approved in Senegal.

The approval makes Volansi the only cargo drone operator in Senegal with a BVLOS licence to fly unmanned operations country-wide, allowing the company to build aerial delivery routes for its mining customers in West Africa.

“Our mission at Volansi is to build a world unbound by the limitations of infrastructure, and with sky lanes, it’s totally possible,” said Volansi CEO and Co-founder Hannan Parvizian. “This will have a massive impact on Africa’s economy, offering limitless development and accessibility will increase by more than 100 percent, creating more than a million jobs in the region.”

Parvizian did not give a time frame of when these million-strong jobs will start streaming in, but he did add that his company is planning to expand its network in the near future, to become the first interconnected delivery drone network of sky lanes across the continent connecting mission points over rivers, bridges, and hills enabling reliable and quick deliveries via drone.

Volansi’s largest drone, the second generation Voly M20 has a flight range of 350 miles (of course dependent on the payload, cruise speed and environmental factors) and a payload capacity of up to 10 kilogrammes.

The drones are seeking to improve on current delivery means, which rely on trucks, vans and motorcycles. Depending on road conditions and traffic, such deliveries can take two and a half hours or more to complete. Volansi’s coming in could provide an essential supply chain solution – particularly in areas where logistics is challenging – as they have the capacity to complete these same journeys in just 30 minutes.

The company is already delivering cargo on-call, at dramatically reduced times, improving uptime and cost savings for industries such as healthcare, oil and gas, and mining.

“We see this as a huge opportunity in Africa,” said Parvizian. “We are going to revolutionise how people think about access and reach within the continent. Just as Africa skipped landline development and took a giant leap to cell phones, I believe that it will jump right into VTOL. It’s going to happen fast, and Volansi is geared up to build the first interconnected delivery drone network within the continent.”

We wish Volansi god speed in their latest expansion attempts; although we do wish the landline had stayed a bit longer – it had a very simple, yet very effective solution to blocking out calls without that lady’s voice ratting out to the caller that they are barred from calling this number.


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