To augment its delivery business, SpiceJet dedicated air cargo service SpiceXpress is planning to use drones for last-mile delivery. The company has tied up with drone manufacturer Throttle Aerospace Systems, which will provide drones and assist in the initial testing phase.
It plans to take part in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) experimental beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations. The company will start operation once it gets regulatory approval from DGCA.
A consortium led by SpiceXpress aims to begin experimental flights by early January added the report. SpiceXpress will use the services for urgent delivery, said an ET report.
SpiceJet cargo division already offers express delivery services of medicines, organs, blood, and e-commerce shipments. As airports fall in no-fly zones, which is outlined in govt policy, the parcels will first be moved to a warehouse by road then to customers by drone.
Last year in September, SpiceJet had started SpiceXpress to cash in on the boom in online retail. At present, it offers cargo capacity on its passenger aircraft connecting 47 domestic and seven international destinations.
The development comes at a time when air cargo and logistics companies across the world have been acknowledging the usage of drones for its speed and automation. The move will help it join the league of firms who plans to offer similar services.
In early October, DGCA had picked up seven companies out of 34 applicants, which applied for long-range, or beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone experiments.
The selected companies include Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo, medical delivery providers Zipline and Redwing, and Tata Advanced Systems and Honeywell. The DGCA rejected 27 applications mainly on the grounds of incomplete information.
The companies selected for the experiments aim to be able to start delivery operation via drones by January next year.
In December 2018, the govt legalised flying drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). It also had drafted a new drone policy for regulations. Under which, it defined five different categories — Nano: less than or equal to 250 grams, Micro: from 250 grams to 2 kg, Small: from 2kg to 25 kg, medium: From 25 kg to 150 kg and Large: greater than 150 kg.
As per the draft, Nano drones that weigh less than 250 grams will not be required registration.