Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet on Friday received formal approval from India's aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to conduct drone trials for delivering essential supplies and e-commerce products.
With a prime focus on delivering medical emergency parcels and essential supplies in remote areas, SpiceXpress, the cargo arm of SpiceJet, will be looking at last-mile delivery from the warehouse.
The approval comes after SpiceXpress-led consortium submitted a proposal to DGCA for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft, in response to the former's bid to call for expression of interest.
Ajay Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, SpiceJet, said: "we are extremely optimistic about using this exciting new mode of delivery for products like perishables and medicines which have a smaller shelf-life and need urgent deliveries in the remotest parts of India."
The airline said that the focus of the initiative is to ensure faster delivery with cost-effectiveness in express delivery of medicines and and e-commerce shipments.
Several health start-ups are also delivering and collecting medicines and blood sample through drones. The Indian aviation ministry has also launched the e-portal GARUD to fast-track approval for drone operations related to COVID-19.
SpiceJet has also been at the forefront of cargo operations - 12,298 tons of cargo have been transported in more than 1,728 flights - during the lockdown, which is scheduled to be lifted on 1 June. Domestic flight operations in India resumed after two months on 25 May.