Former RAF And Navy Helicopter Pilots Fly Test And Trace Sample Drones


Flyby Technology, a York-based drone training, and services company, has been aiding the government’s Test and Trace system, with many of its drone pilots transporting coronavirus test samples by drone.

Flyby’s pilots are former RAF, Royal Navy and combat helicopter pilots, recognised as the top drone trainers in the UK.

Flyby founder, Jon Parker, himself a former RAF fighter pilot, said: “We are talking about the kind of aerial innovation here that has been missing since the days of the Apollo space missions.

“It has moved forward exceptionally quickly over the last few months. We are learning some great lessons from our successes so far.”

Flyby Technology is part of the British Drone Consortium which is flying live Covid samples to laboratories from hospitals and tests sites in support of NHS Test and Trace.

Parker said: “It’s a privilege for the British Drone Consortium to be called upon in the NHS’ hour of need. The drones are supplementing current logistics, keeping the testing machines operating to capacity. This makes the whole system more efficient, bringing to bear the full capacity of the testing infrastructure.”

Photo credit: Annalisa Russell-Smith

The drones will also carry test kits and personal protection equipment between hospitals and will mean delivery can be quick, reducing pressure on NHS staff, avoiding unnecessary physical contact and minimising the risk of secondary transmission of Covid-19.

The first project is based at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, part of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, and is being run by Apian, a company founded by clinical entrepreneurs and doctors Hammad Jeilani and Christopher Law.

Apian is installing a ‘drone pad’ infrastructure so remote-controlled aircraft can take-off and land onto hospitals, laboratories, and warehouses.


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