The Royal Mail is to start trialling drone deliveries from the mainland to the Isles of Scilly.
The trial will see the company use Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flights to deliver Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Covid testing kits and other mail to the islands.
Royal Mail will also become the first to execute inter-island parcel deliveries across the Scillies, as part of the trial.
The Government-funded project will initially have a particular focus on helping to fight the pandemic by delivering crucial PPE and testing kits to the islands’ most vulnerable and remote communities. But the Windracers drone is also able to accommodate mail of most shapes and sizes, enabling more general mail to be transported to the islands as part of the trial.
Parcels will be flown to the islands’ airport in St Mary’s by a UK-built twin-engine Windracers UAV, which can carry up to 100kg worth of mail at a time – equivalent to a typical delivery round. A smaller VTO drone, operated by Skyports, will then be used to transport items to a number of delivery points throughout the islands.
Amy Richards, local postwoman for the Isles of Scilly, said: “It’s great to be involved in this initiative. There are some really remote areas on these islands, and this is a terrific way to help us reach them. It’s really important for us to do all we can to help all areas of the country stay connected – especially in these difficult times.”
Minister for Business Paul Scully said: “The UK is at the forefront of the aviation revolution, developing newer and more fuel-efficient technologies. Royal Mail’s ‘air bridge’ to the Isles of Scilly will not only connect isolated and rural communities, but showcases the real-world potential drones have to truly transform our lives. Backed by Government funding, it is initiatives like these which will help us beat Covid-19 and build back better from the pandemic.”