Unmanned aircraft in freight trial for Isles of Scilly

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There are five inhabited Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall

A trial of unmanned aircraft transporting freight to the Isles of Scilly is set begin later this year.

It is hoped a test flight from Land's End airport will happen before the end of 2020, subject to approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Currently most freight is delivered to the islands by ship, with some being taken alongside passengers on planes.

The aircraft will initially be used for items including medical supplies like Covid tests and specialist boat parts.

If successful, larger unmanned aircraft could be used to take regular cargo and potentially luggage to the islands in the future.

Similar aircraft are used to fly supplies to offshore platforms, and earlier this year plans were announced for drones to take medical equipment to the Isle of Wight.

They have a range of up to 500km (310 miles) and are operated remotely using satellite technology.

Chris Adams, director of business development at Flylogix, said he is "excited about developing something special" in partnership with the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (ISSG) that runs passenger boat and plane services.

"They have 100 years of experience with these resilient islands, and we want to listen to the community to make sure we are solving the problems that exist," he said.

Image source, Flylogix
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The freight will be carried in boxes under the fuselage of the fixed wing aircraft that can be adapted in size and shape.

The likely freight includes medical prescriptions, Covid-19 tests and small specialist parts that could help to fix the existing freight ship faster.

Other potential cargos are lithium batteries - which cannot be taken on passenger aircraft - and fresh flowers grown in the islands.

Ian Howard, chair of the ISSG said: "We want to explore whether a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) freight service is technically and commercially feasible using a new generation of environmentally friendly aircraft.

"This service could be for urgent freight like medication, but also for anyone looking for a rapid delivery service of higher value items."

Robert Francis, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, welcomed the "innovative project in trialling future-focused, sustainable movement of freight to the islands".