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Flock supports Skyports in NHS drone delivery trials

Flock is supporting Skyports in drone delivery trials taking place this week, backed by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership — part of NHS Highland.

This week, Skyports will conduct flights between two hospitals in Scotland, taking off in Oban before flying 10 miles away to the Isle of Mull.

The goal is to cut delivery times from 6 hours one way via ferry to just 15 minutes on-demand by drone, demonstrating the feasibility of delivering urgent medical cargo, such as COVID-19 test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), between remote medical facilities by delivery drone.

Flock’s CEO, Ed Leon Klinger commented:

“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 are 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.”

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.”

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.

Joanna Macdonald, Chief Officer for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “I am delighted that Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership is again at the forefront in Scotland using new technologies to benefit our patients

“The use of drones provides real opportunities to improve services and will help enable quicker diagnosis for our patients.“We are excited to be working with Skyports in the design of this new service.”

UAS manufactured by German unmanned aircraft-maker Wingcopter will be used, due to its proven capability through numerous delivery operations 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.

“These medical delivery trials are an indication of the future we’re working towards” Ed continued. “As Governments and public bodies realise the transformational impact of drones, Flock remains ready and able to lend its expertise”.

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