Mwanza, Tanzania, Tuesday 30th October 2018. Wingtra today helped push forward commercial drone operation in East Africa completing a fully autonomous flight of 22km across Lake Victoria to Juma Island. On arrival it landed on the beach.
Mwanza City is a port city of 3.5 million people that serves not only the fishing community on the lake but mining and light industry in Northern Tanzania. The city is a hub for medical supply deliveries in the region.
This is the city that Wingcopter and DHL recently used to undertake a medical delivery trial.
There is an appetite here for technology-based transport changes and in the 2019 Lake Victoria Challenge organisers hope to be able to award contracts to winners not just plaudits and pats on the back.
They are seeking 15 serious players that will have to qualify to enter. Organizers are looking for eVTOLs with a proven track record, maintenance and spares plans.
But let’s jump back to Wingtra’s flight of yesterday.
It was not the furthest BVLOS flight but it was in trying conditions. The launch site is within 1km of the end of the International runway. The airfield has continued operations throughout all local VLOS flight and yesterdays BVLOS flight.
Creating confidence and trust with ATC has been David Guerin of Ozy RPAS Consulting, David is an experienced Air Traffic Controller and more impressive an Outback Challenge judge.
His workload was reduced by the Involi team who created an air picture for him with a network of receivers. Placing them at personal peril from a boat on shoreline locations that could see the GSM network and be suitably spaced to multilaterate Mode S traffic.
If you are an Altitude Angel fan I was even able to report flight operations to their UTM system.
The hard work of a group of people gathered from the around the world that did’nt know each other before they arrived and a willing airport and regulator successfully removed the friction normally associated with RPAS operation.
The success of the Wingtra flight was testament to the quality of their airframe and software. Conditions were not what some would consider perfect and sending any platform over a large body of water requires confidence.
Having government ministers and Civil Aviation Authority from eight countries watching whilst eating snacks and drinking cocktails almost seemed to make the flight trivial.
For any drone delivery service to succeed it must be so reliable and regular that people start ignoring it.
Well done Wingtra and well done the Lake Victoria Challenge an amazing event that has pushed the boundaries.
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