Astral, Skyports and Swoop Aero complete Kenya’s first BVLOS drone deliveries

Kenyan drone oper­a­tor Astral Aer­i­al Solu­tions, Swoop Aero, and Sky­ports have con­duct­ed Kenya’s first Beyond Visu­al Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone deliv­er­ies, with plans to launch per­ma­nent drone deliv­er­ies by the first quar­ter of 2023. 

The part­ner­ship has received BVLOS reg­u­la­to­ry approvals in 12 coun­tries and will pro­vide last-mile drone oper­a­tions for the health sec­tor to trans­port crit­i­cal med­ical car­go, includ­ing sam­ples, vac­cines and med­i­cines, to health­care facil­i­ties across hard to reach regions of Kenya.

The project is led by Astral Aer­i­al Solu­tions, an expe­ri­enced Kenyan provider of drone ser­vices for agri­cul­tur­al, map­ping and sur­vey pur­pos­es, and the first drone oper­a­tor to be award­ed BVLOS flight cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by the Kenyan Civ­il Avi­a­tion Author­i­ty. 

It will oper­ate autonomous drone tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­er Swoop Aero’s inte­grat­ed drone logis­tics plat­form in part­ner­ship with Sky­ports, who have launched ini­tial flights in May 2022 and com­plet­ed over 50 test flights. 

Astral Aer­i­al Solu­tions CEO Kush Gad­hia said: “We are lead­ing the way for BVLOS drone deliv­er­ies in Kenya, hav­ing demon­strat­ed the cost and time ben­e­fits of drone flight through our exist­ing VLOS oper­a­tions. 

“Work­ing with Swoop Aero and Sky­ports, we have gained valu­able insight from lead­ers in the BVLOS drone deliv­ery indus­try, and we are eager to get start­ed with full time oper­a­tions in 2023.”

Sky­ports head of drone ser­vices Alex Brown added: “Hav­ing launched the UK’s first BVLOS drone deliv­ery oper­a­tions, we are very aware of the chal­lenges and require­ments of such projects. 

“We also know the mas­sive ben­e­fit that drone deliv­er­ies can bring to rur­al com­mu­ni­ties, and have cre­at­ed an incred­i­ble part­ner­ship with Astral and Swoop Aero to bring safe, effi­cient and cost-effec­tive drone deliv­er­ies to rur­al Kenya.”

Swoop Aero CEO and co-founder Eric Peck con­tin­ued: “We are proud to be expand­ing oper­a­tions in Kenya in what will be a first for the region. 

“Our inte­grat­ed drone logis­tics plat­form will enable bi-direc­tion­al air logis­tics by launch­ing rapid deliv­ery of emer­gency and rou­tine med­i­cines, vac­cines and pathol­o­gy sam­ples.”

While ini­tial oper­a­tions will focus on the pro­vi­sion of last-mile drone deliv­er­ies for Kenya’s health­care sec­tor, the project is set to pave the way for last-mile and sup­ple­men­tary trans­porta­tion ser­vices across indus­try.

In April 2021, Sky­ports part­nered with Kenya Air­ways to launch per­ma­nent unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle oper­a­tions in the coun­try, with both com­pa­nies explor­ing the com­mer­cial via­bil­i­ty of med­ical, logis­ti­cal and inspec­tion use cas­es along­side Kenya’s lead­ing pub­lic and pri­vate insti­tu­tions. 

This was fol­lowed in August 2021 when Eve Urban Air Mobil­i­ty signed with Kenya Air­ways to sup­port urban air mobil­i­ty across the coun­try with an ini­tial focus to apply drone tech­nol­o­gy in train­ing, oper­a­tions, and traf­fic man­age­ment.

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Jason Pritchard

Jason Pritchard is the Editor of eVTOL Insights. He holds a BA from Leicester's De Montfort University and has worked in Journalism and Public Relations for more than a decade. Outside of work, Jason enjoys playing and watching football and golf. He also has a keen interest in Ancient Egypt.

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