Cornwall has played an important role in the development in a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) business.

Windracers is a non-profit organisation that provides transport services to the humanitarian aid, research and environmental protection communities using UAVs.

Thanks to funding provided by Cornwall Development Company (CDC), Windracers Ltd ran a trial of its twin engine, fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), named ULTRA, at St Merryn Airfield in north Cornwall.

The AeroSpace R&D programme at CDC, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), supported Windracers’ £168k upgrade of the ULTRA UAV and flight trials at St Merryn Airfield with a £78k grant. During the project, Windracers engaged with Isles of Scilly Council, 700X Naval Squadron from RNAS Culdrose, the CAA and the Cornwall Airport Newquay air traffic control team.

Following a CAA exemption to fly at St Merryn airfield, Windracers ran numerous demonstration flights, to confirm the operational and autonomous performance upgrades of their ULTRA aircraft.

The testing trials in Cornwall enabled Windracers to be ready to undertake an important mission for the NHS in the Covid-19 crisis.

Earlier this month, the ULTRA UAV flew autonomously from Lee-on-Solent and landed safely on the Isle of Wight in just 18 minutes, delivering urgent medical supplies for St Mary’s hospital.  Able to carry payloads of up to 100 kilograms for up to 1000km means the Windracers’ ULTRA aircraft is likely to be used for further missions such as this.

Operated and monitored from a secure and mobile ground station, Windracers objective is to operate in Africa from dirt landing strips to deliver food and other urgent aid to communities that struggle to get supplies by road.

Charles Scales, CEO of Windracers, said “Windracers is very excited to continue partnering with Cornwall on our R&D project, which will open up major opportunities for us in the region.”

The partnership between Windracers and CDC has been a big step forward for Cornwall’s UAV programme and lays a foundation for other businesses to follow. The support on offer to Windracers and is still ongoing, with both sides looking forward to running trials to the Isles of Scilly.

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly supports disruptive technology and is building its research, development and innovation capability to accelerate projects which have the potential to solve global challenges.

If you’re looking for support for an R&D project, or business expansion, get in touch with the R&D AeroSpace Cornwall Programme at Cornwall Development Company.