Switzerland resumes the transport of blood samples by drones

Source: Swiss Post

On 27 January, Swiss Post will resume the transport of blood samples after the suspension of flight operations in August 2019 due to two accidents. 

Following these events, Swiss Post and Matternet – the US company that operates the drones fleet – set up an “independent committee of aviation experts” to examine security procedures and operations and provide suggestions for improving the service.

According to Michel Guillaume, one of the commission members, Swiss Post and Matternet were operating with high security standards and had a high level of awareness of the issue, even before the accidents occurred. That’s why “there are no reasons not to resume flight operations“.

As part of the revision, the committee recommended four changes to Swiss Post and Matternet:

  • Matternet is expected to implement the new safety recommendations issued by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) and the Swiss Transport Safety Investigation Commission (STSB) in the wake of previous accidents.
  • Establishment of an independent supervisory body for security related processes by the end of March 2020
  • Swiss Post must exercise greater control over the flight operations of drones (currently operated by Matternet), including the possibility of auditing Matternet
  • Matternet should improve its security protocols, including the hiring of a dedicated security manager.

The two companies are already working on implementing these suggestions: Matternet has already implemented the security recommendations and hired a security manager. The review committee will continue to advise companies on security in the future.

In addition, since the accident in May 2019, the two companies have carried out more than 2,000 test flights in Switzerland with improved drones that should be less prone to failure.

The programme has been in operation in Switzerland since 2017 and Swiss Post claims that the drones make it possible to fly test tubes with blood between hospitals and laboratories up to 45 minutes faster than traditional transport.

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