Flock has supported drone delivery provider Skyports during a two-week trial to transport urgent medical cargo to remote communities in Scotland.
Backed by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership — part of NHS Highland, the company insured drones manufactured by Wingcopter, which conducted flights at the end of May. The route was between two hospitals, taking off in Oban before flying 10 miles away to the Isle of Mull.
The goal was to cut delivery times from six hours one-way via ferry, to just 15 minutes on-demand by drone, demonstrating the feasibility of transporting COVID-19 test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), between remote medical facilities by delivery drone.
Flock’s CEO, Ed Leon Klinger, said: “A few years ago drone deliveries were no more than science fiction. Today they’re taking place around the world, helping to transport critical equipment like PPE and medication.
“Skyports is pioneers in the space and it’s very exciting to have helped unlock the critical insurance needed for these flights to take place. We’re delighted to provide support for the trials through our very own COVID-19 fund which was designed for exactly this kind of exceptional operation.
“Flock is rapidly becoming known as the go-to insurer for drone deliveries due to our in-depth knowledge of the industry, a fully flexible approach to insurance, and key relationships with underwriters, such as Allianz who worked with us to support this trial.”
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, the project team have worked closely with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Flock’s own collaboration with industry bodies and data-driven approach to insurance makes it one of the only insurers capable of understanding the challenges associated with Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights around the world.
The trial flights will be planned through Thales’ leading drone operations management platform, SOARIZON, which offers digital tools to maintain compliant and safe drone flying operations.
Alex Brown, Head of Operations at Skyports, added: “Flock never cease to amaze us with their speed, flexibility and ability to go above and beyond to support their customers. The majority of insurance providers out there wouldn’t know where to start with a complex operation like this, but for Flock, it’s their bread and butter.
“We’re delighted to have an insurance partner that helps us push the envelope of what’s possible whilst keeping safety at the heart of everything they do.
Klinger added: “These medical delivery trials are an indication of the future we’re working towards. As Governments and public bodies realise the transformational impact of drones, Flock remains ready and able to lend its expertise.”