The drone delivery service taking off for Isles of Scilly

The first flight saw the aircraft fly a 60 mile round trip over the Atlantic. Credit: Isles of Scilly Steamship Group

A new drone delivery service is being developed to help carry supplies to the Isles of Scilly.

The first return flight from Land's End Airport in Cornwall to St Mary's Airport on the Isles of Scilly on Friday 11 December was the first-ever freight drone flight between two UK commercial airports.

Following the successful test flight there are plans to introduce a daily drone freight service between the mainland and Scilly next summer for a three-month trial period.

If this goes well then the plan will be to work towards a full commercial operation using a bespoke freight Unmanned air vehicle (UAV) within two years.

The service has been specially sanctioned by the Civil Aviation Authority to allow drones to fly well used commercial air corridor. Credit: Isles of Scilly Steamship Group

During the first flight, the drone carried a NHS supply box out to the Isles and returned with a selection of local produce, including flowers and artisan gin.

The project is a collaboration between the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, and Hampshire-based UAV company Flylogix.

The pair have agreed to work with the community to develop what could be the UK's first scheduled freight delivery service by drone. This includes plans to develop a larger drone to meet islanders' needs.

Chief executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company Stuart Reid said: "We've shown that a drone freight service is not only technically feasible but that there is demand for its potential to deliver time-sensitive and high value items for the island community, using aircraft that have 98 per cent fewer emission than a manned equivalent."

The move has been welcomed by the Council of the Isles. Chairman Robert Francis said: "This has the potential to be an important additional delivery option, particularly for urgent or time-sensitive payloads such as medical tests or machine parts.

"It could also improve resilience for our remote island community during the winter months or periods of bad weather."

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