Drone infrastructure provider and operator Skyports and Korean firm Kencoa Aerospace are to run a trial for cargo drone deliveries to and on South Korea’s Jeju Island.
The project aims to enhance logistics capabilities on South Korea’s largest island, which is located approximately 60 miles south of the mainland in the Korea Strait.
An agreement between the two companies will initiate the development of cargo drone delivery capabilities to enable the carriage of critical supplies, including medical provisions, across the island.
As part of the project, Skyports will undertake a proof-of-concept to demonstrate the benefits and capabilities of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations on Jeju Island. In addition, the company will also conduct a feasibility assessment of setting up a cargo drone vertiport and accumulate critical eVTOL operations data ahead of the commencement of commercial operations.
To facilitate the project, Kencoa Aerospace will provide essential insight into the South Korean advanced air mobility (AAM) infrastructure ecosystem. The company has already established a drone operation division on Jeju Island to provide local operation headquarters.
In addition, Kencoa Aerospace will lead on the recruitment of suitable personnel and establish a critical relationship with Jeju Island governmental agencies to support the commercialisation of cargo drone operations.
Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, said: “South Korea is ripe with opportunity in the advanced air mobility space, and Jeju Island’s specific volcanic and island geography provides a unique backdrop on which to demonstrate the benefits of drone logistics.
“With our BVLOS cargo drone operations, delivery services on the island will be up to six times faster, with carbon emissions reduced by up to 90%. Drone deliveries have the potential to totally transform services for residents and healthcare providers, and we’re excited to be amongst the first movers in South Korea – and globally.”
Kenny Lee, CEO of Kencoa Aerospace, said: “Through this partnership with Skyports, a global technology leader in the AAM industry, we will commence drone deliveries in Jeju Province before establishing AAM infrastructure and expanding into the air taxi industry. Jeju’s excellent tourist resources will promote the commercialisation of our AAM services. The strength of this partnership will enable the fastest commercial launch in Korea.”
Skyports has run drone delivery projects in the UK, including the first COVID-19 test drone delivery service in Scotland with the NHS and the operation of an inter-island medical drone delivery service between the Isles of Scilly for Royal Mail. The company has also buily a full-scale passenger air taxi vertiport – the take-off and landing infrastructure for eVTOL aircraft – for a trial that took place in Singapore in 2019.
Kencoa Aerospace is partnering with multiple advanced air mobility companies throughout the world to facilitate the creation of AAM networks globally and in Korea. To date, partners include Hanwha Systems, Korean Air, Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.