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Royal Mail launches drone mail deliveries in Orkney

Royal Mail and drone operator Skyports Drone Services have joined forces to launch what is claimed to be the UK’s first drone delivery service for mail

Through the so-called Orkney I-Port operation, letters and parcels will be transported from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office to Stromness, from where Skyports Drone Services will conduct daily drone deliveries to Royal Mail staff on Graemsay and Hoy.

Funded through the Department for Transport’s Freight Innovation find,  will initially operate for three months, with the intent to extend in the future. The deliveries will be carried out using the Speedbird Aero DLV-2 aircraft, an electric drone capable of carrying payloads of up to 6kg.


The Speedbird Aero DLV-2 electric drone used in the project carries payloads of up to 6kg - Royal Mail


This is the first UK drone delivery project which can be conducted on a permanent basis under existing regulatory frameworks. This is due to the unique landscape of Orkney and the proximity of the islands to one another which allows for flights to be conducted using extended visual line of sight (EVLOS) permissions rather than beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) permissions.

The operation is expected to significantly improve the delivery service for some of the UK’s most remote communities, and is also expected to deliver emissions savings over existing delivery methods.

The operation is one of the nine winning projects of the Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator, a programme funded by the Department for Transport and delivered by the Connected Places Catapult to support innovators with grant funding and business advice. Skyports received £150,000 of grant funding to test Orkney I-Port operation as a part of the programme.

Chris Paxton, Head of Drone Trials at Royal Mail, said: “We are proud to be working with Skyports to deliver via drone to some of the more remote communities that we serve in the UK. Using a fully electric drone supports Royal Mail’s continued drive to reduce emissions associated with our operations, whilst connecting the island communities we deliver to.”