The country’s biggest air cargo operator, SpiceJet has converted three of its Bombardier Q400 passenger aircraft into freighters in response to the growing demand for movement of supplies, medicines and medical equipment across the country.
With the addition of these three cargo planes, SpiceJet now has a dedicated fleet of eight freighter aircrafts. The three newly converted freighter aircraft will primarily operate to tier II and III cities.
Our cargo operations are doing extremely well. These are our old 78-seater Q400s and have a cargo capacity of 8.5 tonnes each. These smaller cargo planes are perfectly suited for operations to tier II and III cities and remote and hilly areas in the North East, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh,” SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said.
In another development, SpiceXpress, the dedicated cargo arm of SpiceJet has received formal approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to conduct drone trials.
Post-trials and approvals, the carrier plans to use drones to provide for a quicker, faster and cost-effective delivery of medical, pharma and essential supplies and e-commerce products.
A SpiceXpress-led consortium which includes drone manufacturing company- Throttle Aerospace, analytics and software solution firm- AeoLogic, and air traffic awareness and collision avoidance services provider- Involia had submitted a proposal to the regulator for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft in response to a DGCA notice inviting expression of interest.
Based on the recommendations of the BVLOS Experiment Assessment and Monitoring Committee, SpiceXpress was granted permission for conducting experimental BVLOS operations.
“Testing of drone technology for last-mile connectivity and cost-effective cargo deliveries are a big leap in the air transportation of essential and non-essential supplies in India. We are extremely optimistic about using this exciting new mode of delivery for products like perishables and medicines which have a smaller shelf-life and need urgent deliveries in the remotest parts of India,” Singh said.
Reportedly, SpiceXpress will be looking at last-mile delivery from the warehouse; additionally the prime focus will be on delivering medical emergency parcels and essential supplies in remote areas with utilising drone technology.