Speedbird Aero: Historic Drone Supply Certification

Revolutionizing Medical Logistics: Speedbird Aero’s Historic Certification for Drone-Based Biological Substance Transport in Latin America

Images courtesy Speedbird Aero.

According to a company press release, Speedbird Aero, a leading innovator in the drone technology sector, has achieved a significant milestone in the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) field. On February 29, 2024, the Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) awarded Speedbird Aero an Approval of Exemption from Article E94.103(a) for its DLV-1 and DLV-2 aircraft. This approval marks Speedbird Aero as the first company in Latin America certified to manufacture and operate UAS for transporting UN 3373 – Category B Biological Substances, encompassing essential medical items such as disease and blood tests, organs for transplant, and vaccines.

Historically, ANAC’s Article E94.103(a) has prohibited the transportation of dangerous goods or cargo, including UN 3373 Category B Biological Substances, via unmanned aircraft. This certification not only represents a breakthrough for Speedbird Aero but also for healthcare logistics in the region. Prior to this certification, Speedbird Aero, in collaboration with Grupo Hermes Pardini (now part of Grupo Fleury), facilitated the transportation of surgical equipment, medicines, and medical kits. In 2021, they established a 30-kilometer beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) corridor in Salvador, Brazil, aimed at optimizing the collection, delivery, and processing of laboratory samples through strategically placed droneports.

Cleber Miranda, Corporate Logistics Manager at Grupo Fleury, expressed his enthusiasm for the project’s success, stating, “This project began in 2021 with a clear objective: to obtain authorization to transport biological materials. After three years of continuous efforts, we’ve reached a significant milestone. This approval will enable us to expand drone transports, reducing costs and achieving our mission of delivering quality healthcare wherever our customers are.”

Manoel Coelho, co-founder and CEO of Speedbird Aero, shared insights into the company’s journey and its commitment to overcoming Brazil’s unique logistical challenges. “For Speedbird Aero, securing approval to commence unmanned flight operations involving UN3373 biological substances is the culmination of years of unwavering dedication,” Coelho remarked. He highlighted the company’s extensive preparation, including over 22,000 meticulously executed flights, to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of its operations.

Coelho said, “In scenarios involving critical cargo such as lab samples, blood supplies, and medications, convenience takes a back seat to the imperative of efficient and punctual deliveries. In these vital endeavors, timely transportation can be a matter of life and death, highlighting the paramount importance of our mission.”

Brazil’s diverse landscape, featuring both densely urbanized areas and vast rural expanses, presents unique challenges for unmanned aircraft operations. The country’s infrastructure, characterized by a high number of heliports and private aircraft ownership, requires meticulous planning and coordination for drone operations. Speedbird Aero’s efforts to navigate these complexities underscore the importance of timely and efficient delivery of critical cargo, where delays can have life-or-death consequences.

By adhering to stringent certification processes akin to those followed by civil airlines, Speedbird Aero has set a precedent for the future of UAS in healthcare logistics and beyond. The certification not only ensures the safe and reliable operation of its drones but also represents a significant advancement in the global effort to provide accessible healthcare solutions. Speedbird Aero is currently exploring the potential for utilizing its certification documents and tests for approval under other regulatory agencies, including in the United States and Europe, further emphasizing its commitment to advancing UAS capabilities on a global scale.

In addition to this groundbreaking approval, Speedbird Aero is leading initiatives like the Brazilian Unmanned Traffic Management (BR-UTM), aiming for the seamless integration of drone logistics networks in urban and rural settings. This achievement marks a pivotal moment for Speedbird Aero, Grupo Fleury, and the future of medical logistics, offering a glimpse into the sustainable and efficient transportation models that drones can provide.

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