City cargo carrier signs drone deal
Astral Aviation said the new fleet will enable it provide logistics services in aid and relief sectors, e-commerce, postal networks, medical deliveries, schoolbooks and the oil, gas and mining sectors. The airline said it plans to purchase an additional 10 drones in 2019 from Dubai-based manufacturer Falcon Drones Technology.
Nairobi-based cargo carrier Astral Aviation has signed a letter of intent to acquire two Lucas-F250 drones, with plans to launch a local cargo drone network next year. The firm said the new fleet will enable it provide logistics services in aid and relief sectors, e-commerce, postal networks, medical deliveries, schoolbooks and the oil, gas and mining sectors.The airline said it plans to purchase an additional 10 drones in 2019 from Dubai-based manufacturer Falcon Drones Technology.The F-250 is an unmanned aerial vehicle with a range extending 1,500 kilometres, endurance of up to 10 hours, a cruise speed of 150 kilometres (km) per hour and maximum speed of 200km/hour.
It has a cargo weight of up to 250 kilos, capacity for Euro-pallet dimensions, folding wings, a folding tail, fully autonomous take-off and landing, and Waypoint Navigation and landing.“The Falcon Drones technology is truly ground breaking. At Astral, we are delighted to have secured this order with exclusivity in Kenya,” said Astral Aviation chief executive Sanjeev Gadhia.“It brings with it the exciting prospect of further expansion in the wider East Africa region.”Mr Gadhia, said the firm will expand the drone network in phases, comprising domestic, regional and then intra-Africa deliveries with Nairobi as the central logistics hub.The second phase, targeting the eastern Africa region, will focus on point-to-point and last mile delivery within “strategic drone hubs”, serving a population of 250 million people, all subject to regulatory approval.The third and final phase will extend the range of phase two to include strategic locations in Africa, he said.Astral operates a cargo aircraft fleet of F27 (5 tonnes), DC9 (15 tonnes) and B727-200 (24 tonnes) freighters within its intra-African network, in addition to a leased B747-400 freighter on the Nairobi — London route.Within its intra-African network encompassing 50 destinations, Astral operates a combination of scheduled and ad hoc charters along with leasing services.