FedEx Express, in collaboration with Skyports and Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) Air, has completed its first scheduled drone last-mile delivery flight in Ireland.
Last Friday, Skyports, the world-leading operator of cargo drone deliveries and advanced air mobility infrastructure, formally received a first-in-EU Light UAS Operator Certificate from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).
The certification allows for the first time, Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone operations. The certificate was handed over to Skyports by the Irish Aviation Regulator, Diarmuid Ó Conghaile, allowing remotely operated drone flights from the Shannon-based vertiport.
The LUC is recognised in all European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) member countries allowing UAS operators to conduct flights without first submitting a declaration or obtaining authorisation from aviation authorities beforehand. Skyports is one of a handful of drone operators globally that have been granted the certification to date after demonstrating to the regulator that as an organisation it is capable of assessing the risk of an operation itself.
This first drone delivery marks the launch of a trial service delivering goods from FMCI, based at Shannon Airport, County Clare, to Foynes Port, County Limerick, Ireland’s second-largest port operator and largest bulk port company.
The drone deliveries were conducted by Skyports, a world-leading operator of cargo drone deliveries, on behalf of the FMCI Air consortium which also includes Avtrain, Shannon Group and FMCI.
The delivery of the first FedEx Express package in Ireland via drone demonstrates the benefits of drone delivery for last-mile service and the commitment by FedEx to exploring the latest innovations in last-mile delivery.
The delivery is part of a month-long trial which will see a number of test flights conducted in the Mid-West region, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) between Shannon Airport and Foynes Port, with deliveries anticipated to be made in under 13 minutes.
Clare County has shown its support for the project, highlighting the role that the councils are playing and leading from an innovation perspective.
Cllr PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said: “Clare County Council welcomes this initiative in the development of future technologies which has the potential to bring significant benefits to our communities. It also demonstrates the commitment of Clare County Council to embrace the development of innovative projects and services.”
Russell Vickers, CEO, FMCI, said “This ground-breaking trial demonstrates how future mobility technologies such as last mile drone delivery has the potential to transform the region. Clare Country Council clearly have the vision to support this potential to transform transportation in the county and support the aviation sector around Shannon airport.”