The council-operated Oban Airport is providing safety support to a trial delivering vital medical supplies between Lorn and Islands District General Hospital, in Oban, and Mull and Iona Community Hospital, Craignure, Isle of Mull.
The team at the airport is providing back up to Skyports, a London-based drone delivery service.
The project is designed to support NHS logistics operations to help provide front-line staff with the necessary equipment to do their jobs safely and to help keep hard-to-reach communities provisioned with essential medical care.
Skyports plans to fly its delivery drones beyond visual line of sight, along a 17km route south from Oban and then north-west to the north coast of the Isle of Mull during a trial from 25 May - 5 June. This will be during the working week and within daylights hours only
The proposed airspace for the trials is out with the flight restricted zone airspace around the airport, however during the trial period, Oban Airport will relay safety messages to any aircraft in the vicinity.
This initiative is in direct response to the UK Government’s call for help to address and mitigate the health impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
This is not the first time the airport has been involved in research with drones. Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMs), located close to Oban airport, has a department that is dedicated to drone research. Oban airport has been working in partnership with SAMS on research and development of drone activities.
Councillor Aileen Morton, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought distinct challenges to rural communities and island communities. Community spirit, determination and innovation is helping overcome them.
“We’re delighted that the airport is involved in trialling a project aimed at changing the way health services in disperse communities are linked together. We’re already using technology to provide health advice and information remotely. Use of drones could assist vital equipment to be transferred more efficiently and effectively.”