Orkney is comprised of 19 islands, and harsh weather makes mail delivery to this location even more difficult. An airplane takes postal deliveries from central Scotland to the main island, and ferries or small aircraft are supposed to take them further to the other islands. The challenging weather often causes modifications to the ferry schedule, with frequent delivery interruptions.
Skyports and the local authorities want to see if drones could do a better job than ferries to keep a smooth delivery flow. They rolled out the drone delivery project in July and will continue until October.
The delivery hero selected for this tough job is called the DLV-2 drone. It stood out due to its high payload and weather resistance. The DLV-2 can carry more than 13 pounds (6 kg) for nearly ten miles (16 km). Plus, it has proven to operate effectively in weather conditions that go beyond what the Orkney inter-island ferry can handle.
The Brazil-based Speedbird Aero offers three drone versions, a futuristic droneport, and the software to connect all of them. The DLV-2 is the middle version, with a medium payload and range. It's also capable of BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) operations, and it's equipped with a safety parachute.
Skyports Drone Services plans to use this Brazilian drone for other logistics operations as well, in different parts of the world, in addition to the Orkney I-Port project. It's also not the only drone in Skyports' fleet. Earlier this year, it started operating the Pyka Pelican Cargo, a heavy-duty all-electric cargo airplane.
Last year, Skyports pioneered another drone delivery project in Scotland. Together with the Argyll and Bute Council, it tested the delivery of school meals to remote islands. Similar to Orkney, drones were supposed to provide reliable and efficient deliveries in spite of the geographical and weather challenges. The drone used for that project was Swoop Aero's Kookaburra III aircraft.
Skyports is primarily known as an AAM (advanced air mobility) infrastructure developer. It launched what claimed to be the world's first vertiport prototype in 2019. Hundreds of visitors admired the futuristic construction displayed in Marina Bay, Singapore. Skyports is also linked to the Cergy-Pontoise vertiport located northwest of Paris, France. This eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) airport is due to start operating during the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.