Longest unmanned commercial Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight between healthcare facilities
Improving access to care
On a recent bright fall day, the Spright team advanced the implementation of commercial drones in the U.S. by completing the longest unmanned commercial Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight. This is an important step in developing Spright’s delivery drone network that will exclusively service the healthcare market including labs, hospitals, and clinics.
Departing from Hutchinson Medical Center in Hutchinson, KS, the Wingcopter 198 eVtol aircraft flew 29 miles to Rice County District Hospital in Lyons, KS. The flight lasted 23 minutes.
“We are proud to be leading the UAS industry in opening corridors of opportunity for commercial drone delivery,” said Joe Resnik, President of Spright. “We look forward to the next phase of our effort to establish a U.S. medical drone network that connects communities with the resources needed to expand healthcare access and improve patient care.”
Time and resource savings
The mission was executed using a Wingcopter 198 aircraft, which can carry up to 9 pounds of lab samples, whole blood, medications, or other medical supplies. With the ability to travel up to 60 miles at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, the drone drastically reduces the time it typically takes to transport critical healthcare supplies and patient specimens. For example, the 23-minute test flight in Kansas would have taken 45 minutes by car.
This is significant in rural communities like Lyons that experience limited healthcare access and must rely on couriers and even medical staff to pick up and deliver critical supplies. Numerous challenges including weather, staffing shortages, and road construction can slow that effort even more, but create opportunities for innovation – such as implementing drone delivery.
“We are committed to delivering the best care possible for our patients” said Chuck Welch, chief strategy officer with Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System. “Partnering with Spright on this groundbreaking drone delivery effort will allow us to better serve our patients and communities, but also create internal efficiencies through enhanced resource allocation. It’s a win for our staff, our patients, and the broader region as a whole.”