Last week, the first test flights with the medical drone were carried out between Zwolle and Meppel, over a distance of 16 kilometers. It is the first time in the Netherlands that a medical drone flies over such a long distance beyond the pilot’s sight over sparsely populated areas, according to Isala hospital, one of the participants in the Medical Drone Services project.
Trajectory flights run smoothly
The trajectory flights between Zwolle and Meppel are a follow-up to the first test flights with the medical drone that were carried out in 2020. The flight operation is carried out by ANWB Medical Air Assistance, which has obtained an exemption from the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate for these flights.
According to those involved, the first long-haul flight went smoothly. A number of times were flown back and forth over a distance of 16 kilometers. The drone flew between the Isala hospital in Meppel and a meadow north of Zwolle. In the future, the drone must fly directly between the Isala locations Meppel and Zwolle.
The flights are performed out of sight of the pilot (BVLOS, beyond visual line of sight). To make this possible, a drone corridor was temporarily set up by means of a TGB (temporary area with restrictions). Other airspace users must temporarily avoid that area in order to avoid dangerous situations.
The medical drone in question is the Avy Aera, a hybrid multirotor / fixed-wing drone that can take off and land vertically (VTOL). The drone can transport a payload of approximately 1.5 over a distance of up to 100 km.
Emergency medical transport by drone
With the Medical Drone Services project, partners PostNL, ANWB, Erasmus MC, Isala, Sanquin, Certe, Avy and KPN are investigating emergency medical transport by drone. Over the next three years, research will be conducted into how to fly safely and reliably.
Recent research has shown that there is a lot of support for the use of drones for social purposes such as transporting emergency medical goods. In the United Kingdom, for example, drones are already being used for medical transports to remote locations.