Homegrown Private airline SpiceJet has received formal approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to conduct drone trials. SpiceXpress, the dedicated cargo arm of SpiceJet, now plans to use drones to provide for quicker, faster and cost-effective delivery of "medical, pharma and essential supplies and e-commerce products".
A SpiceXpress-led consortium had submitted a proposal to the regulator for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft in response to a DGCA notice inviting expression of interest. Based on the recommendations of the BVLOS experiment assessment and monitoring committee, SpiceXpress was granted permission for conducting experimental operations.
Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet said: "Testing of drone technology for last-mile connectivity and cost-effective cargo deliveries are a big leap in the air transportation of essential and non-essential supplies in India. We are extremely optimistic about using this exciting new mode of delivery for products like perishables and medicines which have a smaller shelf-life and need urgent deliveries in the remotest parts of India."
The consortium includes Throttle Aerospace, a drone manufacturing company, AeoLogic, an analytics and software solution firm and Involia, a provider of air traffic awareness and collision avoidance services.
SpiceXpress will be looking at last-mile delivery from the warehouse and the prime focus will be on delivering medical emergency parcels and essential supplies in remote areas. Drones will ensure a faster delivery bringing down costs and would go a long way to augment our business to offer express delivery of medicines, perishable items and e-commerce shipments, the company said.
SpiceJet has transported over 12,298 tonnes of cargo on more than 1,728 flights since the nation-wide lockdown began, transporting medical and surgical supplies, sanitisers, face masks, coronavirus rapid test kits, IR thermometers, etc. The airline has also expanded its international cargo network operating cargo flights to and from Jakarta, Kathmandu, Sudan, South Korea, and a host of other places. SpiceJet operates 600 average daily flights to 63 destinations, including 54 domestic and 9 international ones.