News & Analysis

Drone delivery service in Orkney paused after incident

4th December 2023
Paige West

drone-delivery service for mail in the Orkney Islands has been temporarily suspended following an incident where a drone was lost at sea.

Royal Mail and Skyports Drone Services announced the launch of the Orkney I-Port operation, a drone delivery project established in partnership with Orkney Islands Council Harbour Authority and Loganair, back in August.

This setback occurred on 27th November when the drone underwent a ‘controlled descent’ into the water due to a technical issue.

The drone, while en route between the islands of Hoy and Graemsay, encountered a technical problem. The remote operator, in response, deployed the drone's built-in parachute, leading to its landing in the sea.

Consequently, the drone has sunk to the bottom, as confirmed by a spokesperson from Skyports Drone Services. They assured that the drone was not carrying any cargo at the time of the incident and emphasised that there was no damage to people or property.

Royal Mail clarified that residents of the affected islands would continue to receive their mail through the daily ferry service operating between Stromness, Graemsay, and Hoy.

The drone-delivery service was part of a three-month trial that commenced on the 1st August. The project aimed to revolutionise mail delivery across the Orkney Islands, using two Speedbird Aero DLV-2 drones. These drones were designed to reduce inter-island delivery times drastically, from 24 hours to just one.

Following the incident, Skyports Drone Services has taken a responsible approach by reporting the matter to all relevant authorities. The company has also temporarily paused all inter-island deliveries while it assesses the situation. The focus now is on investigating the cause of the technical issue and ensuring that such incidents do not recur.

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