Aviation article(s)
March 15, 2023

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company, Skyports, announced that it has successfully completed a drone delivery proof of concept (PoC) in partnership with Kaga City and Kanematsu Corporation in Japan.


The test flight transported simulated blood and other materials of up to 3kg between Kaga Medical Centre towards locations at Kaga Onsen Care Centre and Yamanaka Onsen Nukumori Clinic.


Skyports said the PoC flight paths mirrored actual high-demand transport routes and sought to establish the time and cost savings that can be achieved with Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations.


Riku Miyamoto, mayor of Kaga City, noted that the PoC demonstrates a "strong potential" of drone technology in bridging pressing logistical challenges.


"Kaga City is proud to be at the forefront of introducing drone delivery services to Japan," he said, adding that the city is committed to leveraging innovative and impactful technologies to elevate the lives of our residents and bring new socio-economic opportunities in the months and years ahead.


"With this first step, we look forward to further collaboration to expand on the types of services and deliveries we can provide to the community in Kaga and set a standard for the rest of the country."


Atsushi Okada, country manager at Skyports Japan, noted the benefits of utilising drones in Japan deliveries, citing the country's diverse landscape that encompasses mountainous terrain and thousands of islands and water bodies.


"We are confident that our drone delivery operations have proven their impact in addressing logistical challenges and elevating safety standards. With each successful PoC, we are building on our repertoire of capabilities and proven use cases," Okada said, further noting that this milestone is a significant step forward that will provide a strong roadmap for the wider-scale adoption of drone technology in Japan.


Proof of concept reinforces strong proposition of drone deliveries


Following an in-depth planning phase that included consultations with and approvals from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) and significant on-ground support and knowledge from Kaga City, the PoC flights were designed to assess the feasibility and impact of BVLOS drone deliveries in enhancing speed, connectivity and safety in the delivery of medical supplies to remote and hard-to-reach areas in the region.


Skyports said the flights effectively demonstrated the ability of drone deliveries in reducing transport times by over 50% as compared to movement via land transport.


It also provided valuable insight towards developing frameworks for evaluating and selecting take-off and landing sites, as well as mapping optimum flight paths that account for both high-level airspace users and ground elements.


It also accounted for environmental factors such as temperature fluctuations, with temperatures ranging between 2 and 9 degrees Celsius, as well as rain, snow and wind conditions.


"The PoC serves as an important stepping stone for the expansion and extension of drone delivery services in Japan," Skyports said.


It added that the company intends to similarly move towards scaling up the frequency, speed, payload capabilities and network of the service for on-demand medical deliveries in Japan.


The successful PoC is the latest milestone in Skyports' progress in Japan over the past two years as the company continues to scale up operations in the country. Skyports has made significant strides in both its Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) infrastructure and drone services business units.


On the AAM front, Skyports signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2021 with Kanematsu Corporation for the eventual launch of commercial AAM operations in Japan.


In 2022, Skyports commenced the development of a Concept of Operations in collaboration with Eve Air Mobility for the JCAB.


In October 2022, Skyports opened its local Japan office in Tokyo and appointed Okada as country manager.

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