Wingcopter, a German drone manufacturer and service provider, is collaborating with ANA Holdings, the parent company of the Japanese airline All Nippon Airways, to accelerate the delivery of essential medicines and consumer products via drones.
The two aviation companies are therefore carrying out extensive tests with the electrical fixed-wing VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft developed by Wingcopter, with the aim of building a drone delivery network capable of serving needs across Japan. Everyday goods and medicines are to be transported to remote mountain regions and islands.
ANA Holdings will provide insights gained from decades of aviation experience to help succeed in the unique flight conditions of Japan, while Wingcopter will provide support in terms of training of pilots, mission planning, operation design as well as maintenance.
“The ongoing tests of Wingcopter aircraft represent a significant step forward in the creation of a viable drone transportation network,” said Tetsuya Kubo, Vice President of ANA HD overseeing the Digital Design Lab.
Since 2016, ANA Holdings has been working on creating a delivery drone infrastructure in Japan in order to offer commercial drone delivery services by 2022. Drone deliveries have been tested in Japan since 2018, and the first flights with Wingcopter drones took place in 2019.
Current tests in March 2021 have once again proven the performance of the Wingcopter under individual flight conditions in rural Japan. The monitored flights between Fukuejima and Hisakajima in Goto City in Nagasaki Prefecture demonstrated the viability of drone delivery for medical supplies, dramatically reducing patients’ waiting times. In this remote region of Japan, the existing infrastructure makes it difficult to transport medical supplies quickly. This is a major concern for health officials and medical professionals who need to respond quickly in situations where time is a key factor in treatment.
The ongoing trials are designed to help ANA HD determine which aircraft are suited to operate best in each region of the country. It will evaluate local weather conditions and demand for drone delivery, as it establishes a series of hubs along the transportation network, according to the press release.