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Friday, July 17, 2015

Virginia Tech, Flirtey Kick Off UAS Delivery System Tests in Virginia

Juliet Van Wagenen

Flirtey delivery UAS
Flirtey delivery UAS. Photo: Flirtey

[Avionics Today 07-17-2015] Today, the first FAA-approved Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) package delivery will kick off at a field hospital in Wise, Va. The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech received a FAA certification to conduct research flights earlier this month and will be delivering pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies at a free medical clinic held every year to assist residents in rural Virginia.

“Important safety and logistical matters needed to be considered by the Federal Aviation Administration as well as all of the government and industry partners working to make this happen,” said Rose Mooney, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech, in a statement released by the college earlier this month. “We have painstakingly reviewed the details with the FAA, making sure nothing is overlooked — from the flight plan to even the contents of the medical payload. We needed to demonstrate that we had done our homework to ensure optimum safety.”

The event will illustrate the challenges of delivering basic health care in rural areas and spotlight Wise County’s role in developing a technology that is expected to grow into a billion-dollar industry. Flights will involve unmanned aircraft operated by NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and Flirtey, an Australian startup company specializing in “last-mile” delivery using UAS. The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech is overseeing the research flights as part of an event called Let’s Fly Wisely. The Flirtey aircraft weighs only about 10 pounds and will lower its cargo via tether.

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