Budget carrier SpiceJet on Friday said a consortium led by its freighter arm, SpiceXpress, has received approval for conducting drone trials from aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). A SpiceXpress-led consortium had submitted a proposal to the regulator for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft in response to a DGCA notice inviting Expression of Interest.
Post trials and approvals, the airline plans to use drones in delivery of essential supplies to remote areas, the company said in a release.
"A SpiceXpress-led consortium had submitted a proposal to the regulator for conducting experimental beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft in response to a DGCA notice inviting expression of interest,” SpiceJet said. The consortium includes Throttle Aerospace, a drone manufacturing company, AeoLogic, an analytics and software solution firm and Involia, which is a provider of air traffic awareness and collision avoidance services.
Earlier this month, the civil aviation ministry had granted exemptions to 13 consortia, including SpiceJet, Nandan Nilekani-backed ShopX and Google-backed Dunzo to operate drones on an experimental basis without the need for unique identification numbers and operator permits till September 30. The SpiceJet arm has emerged as the first to receive an approval to pilot the use of drones to transport goods.
Testing of drone technology for last mile connectivity and cost-effective cargo deliveries is a big leap in the air transportation of essential and non-essential supplies in India, said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.
SpiceJet is optimistic about using this new mode of delivery for products like perishables and medicines which have a smaller shelf-life and need urgent deliveries in the remotest parts of India, he added.
SpiceXpress, which is the dedicated freighter arm of SpiceJet, has eight dedicated freighters in the fleet comprising five Boeing 737s and three Bombardier Q400s.
It also said SpiceXpress will be looking at last-mile delivery from the warehouse and the prime focus will be on delivering medical emergency parcels and essential supplies in remote areas.