Ex-fighter pilots to fly drones carrying vital coronavirus kit between NHS hospitals

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Former military fighter pilots have been recruited to fly drones carrying Covid-19 samples, test kits and personal protective equipment between hospitals in the UK.

Apian, which was founded by NHS staff as part of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, aims to establish a network of secure air corridors for electric drones to navigate via satellite-enabled GPS.

It is hoped that the drone delivery service will avoid courier call-out waiting times, free up NHS staff, reduce unnecessary physical contact and minimise the risk of secondary transmission of the virus.

The medical drones are being piloted by former RAF and Royal Navy fighter pilots from the York-based unmanned aircraft training company Flyby Technology.

The project will be based at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, part of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, and will be supported by the local Anglia Ruskin University as the academic partner.

The hospital stands on a First World War Royal Flying Corps airfield.
Christopher Law, from Apian, said: “Covid-19 has highlighted challenges in NHS supply chain logistics.

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