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Post govt nod, SpiceXpress drones moving to the runway

Catering to fast-growing e-commerce sectors, SpiceXpress, the cargo division of SpiceJet has partnered with Throttle Aerospace Systems to use beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones for very urgent deliveries hoping to start by early January.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 21, 2019, 09.07 AM IST
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Bengaluru: SpiceXpress, the cargo division of budget carrier SpiceJet, is planning to use drones to better serve fast-growing sectors such as ecommerce, where retailers are promising their customers quicker delivery.

“They (SpiceXpress) want to do first- and last-mile using drones when it’s a very urgent delivery,” a person with direct knowledge of the project said.

The company has partnered with Bengaluru-based drone manufacturer Throttle Aerospace Systems to participate in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s experimental beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations, people in the know of the matter told ET.

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SpiceXpress will join the likes of new-age internet firms Zomato and Dunzo, startups RedWing and Throttle Aerospace, and large conglomerates like Tata Advanced Systems in receiving soft approvals from the DGCA for the same.

“Because airports are in the Digital Sky (policy’s) no-fly zones, parcels will be moved to a warehouse by road and then either to a hub or the end customer by drone,” the person said.

The higher speed of delivery could augment SpiceXpress’ business, which already offers express delivery of blood, organs, medicines, perishable items and ecommerce shipments, said another person.

A consortium led by SpiceXpress is hopeful that it, like the others, will be able to begin experimental flights by early January.

While Throttle Aerospace will provide the drones and run it in the testing phase, operations will be handed over to SpiceXpress once final regulatory approvals are received.

SpiceJet did not respond to ET’s queries till the time of going to press.

“Throttle Aerospace has been working on using drones for delivery since 2016. Now, the DGCA’s call to conduct BVLOS experiments is motivating us to do a lot more work in the logistics for medical, e-commerce and many other sectors,” said Nagendran Kandasamy, founder and managing director at Throttle Aerospace.

Apart from SpiceXpress and Throttle Aerospace, the consortium will also include Noida-based analytics firm AeoLogic and Swiss-based Involi, a provider of air traffic awareness and collision avoidance services. The forming of consortiums is in line with the DGCA’s call in May this year asking companies to conduct experimental long-range drone flights.

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