Wingcopter partners with Air Methods for nationwide drone delivery service
Back in April, Wingcopter launched its flagship eVTOL fixed-wing delivery drone, the Wingcopter 198, and now the German drone maker has formed a strategic partnership with Air Methods to create a healthcare-specific drone delivery network across the US.
Founded in 1980, Air Methods currently has a fleet of 450 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft at more than 300 bases across 48 states in the US, which make almost 100,000 deliveries of medical supplies and equipment per year to hospitals and people, mostly in rural areas.
Wingcopter's 65 x 198 x 152 cm (25.5 x 77.9 x 59.8 in) flagship eight-rotor drone can rise up vertically like a helicopter and then transition to fixed-wing horizontal flight once in the air.
It can haul up to 6 kg (13 lb) of cargo, and can accommodate up to three packages (to a total of 5 kg/11 lb in weight) at the same time – each lowered by its own winch from hovered flight. Range per charge is 75 km (46.6 miles) when hauling 5 kg, and maximum cruise speed is 144 km/h (89.5 mph).
The new Air Methods/Wingcopter delivery by drone venture is called Spright, and is initially being trialed in Kansas from the (Northern Hemisphere) fall with project partners Hutchinson Regional Medical Systems. Should the proof of concept prove successful, a nationwide network of rapid delivery of medical supplies by drone will be rolled out using Air Methods existing bases.
"We are thrilled to team up with Air Methods to create a life-saving drone delivery network throughout the United States," said Wingcopter's CEO and co-founder, Tom Plümmer. "Our technology has been used globally to effectively deliver medical supplies, for example insulin in Ireland, children’s vaccines in Vanuatu, emergency medication in Malawi, and just recently, blood samples in Germany. Our vision to ‘save and improve lives’ resonates perfectly with Air Methods’ legacy of providing lifesaving care, combined with Spright’s ambition to improve the quality of healthcare across the US by deploying fleets of Wingcopters, and we are excited about scaling this together."