Drones will be given ‘air corridors’ to deliver goods to remote communities during the lockdown period in UK, as a ban on the machines is lifted.
Operators are currently banned from flying drones outside their sight line but the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it will relax these restrictions.
Drone companies say the aerial machines can be used for both medical and commercial supplies including coronavirus tests and will help minimise the spread of the virus due to the lack of human contact.
One drone flying medical supplies to the Isle of Wight has already been approved while another machine will drop off medical equipment, tests and samples to remote islands in west Scotland, The Telegraph reported.
In the 23-page plan by the CAA, the drones will fly designated ‘zones’ if the operators meet safety standards, showing they can fly and land the craft without fault even if out of their eyeliner.
The easing of restrictions will offer a cheaper, quicker and more hygienic way of deliveries.
The CAA said applications from NHS, hospital, Government, police, fire or ambulance operators would be prioritised, but others will be considered.
The measures would be limited to 90 days in the specified air corridors known as ‘Temporary Danger Areas’, where drones fly separately to aircraft.
Due to the reduced aircraft in the skies at the moment, the aviation authority believes it will be easy to implement the measures during the pandemic.
One air corridor between Southampton and the Isle of Wight has been approved, which would see a drone making a 10-minute flight four times a day with medical supplies to St Mary’s Hospital, Newport, on the island.
The machines will start by ferrying PPE but could also be used for blood and organ transport.
UK-based firm Skyports, approved by the CAA, says its plans in west Scotland will cut delivery times for supplies that otherwise have to travel by road and ferry.
Duncan Walker, founder and chief executive of the company, said: ‘We have been working on the technology for some time, going through the safety case and proofs.
‘Coronavirus has heightened the importance of the use and put some turbocharge behind the process.’
The CAA says drones must ‘meet at least the same safety and operational standards as manned aircraft’.
Next, companies must develop reliable technology which will allow drones to fly freely when they meet other aircraft.
Skyports say such a drone is only weeks away.
Daily Mail UK