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Local drone firm wins approval to operate 5 drones per one pilot

written by Hannah Dowling | May 19, 2022

The Swoop Aero KITE unmanned cargo drone can carry up to 5 kilograms for up to 180 kilometres. (Swoop Aero)

A Melbourne-based drone company will soon begin flying up to five drones per one pilot, after clinching a major regulatory approval.

Drone logistics company Swoop Aero has announced it has obtained approvals from the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA) to operate beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights on up to five drones per single pilot from its remote operations centre (ROC).

Using the same systems, the company will later be able to scale up to allow one pilot to oversee up to 30 remotely piloted drones at once, across three continents.

The company said its ROC will allow it to “operate like an international airliner” by “centralising resources in one facility” and is built upon Amazon Web Services (AWS) systems to improve autonomy and accuracy.

It comes after the company was last year awarded BVLOS approval to deliver medical equipment and supplies via drone into regional Queensland, which the company soon hopes will be extended to greater Queensland and Victoria.

“CASA’s approval to operate drones through the remote operations centre marks a significant milestone for Swoop Aero,” said Eric Peck, CEO of Swoop Aero.

“Using AWS increased our scalability and delivery, and the direct support from the AWS team was key to our success over the past two years. As a result, we improved delivery speed, accessibility, availability of health supplies, and patient outcomes.”

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Meanwhile, Ben Thurgood, APJ head of industry solutions architecture at AWS, said, “We’re pleased to support Swoop Aero as they develop their technology infrastructure and digital twins to operate drone logistics at scale.

“This infrastructure helps Swoop Aero to remotely deliver essential health supplies in safer and more reliable ways. We’re proud to help the team address some of healthcare’s biggest supply chain challenges through evolving drone logistics combined with our cloud capabilities.”

Zachary Kennedy, Swoop Aero’s chief regulatory officer, added, “The ROC will serve as an important function to foster complete visibility of drone operations. From a regulatory perspective, the ROC ensures Swoop Aero is meeting the highest aviation and safety standards at a global level.”

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