Budget carrier SpiceJet on Friday said its freighter arm SpiceXpress has received approval for conducting drone trials from aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Post trials and approvals, the airline plans to use drones in delivery of essential supplies to remote areas, the company said in a release.
"A SpiceXpress-led consortium 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," SpiceJet said.
Based on the recommendations of the BVLOS Experiment Assessment and Monitoring Committee, SpiceXpress was granted permission for conducting experimental BVLOS operations, it stated.
The consortium includes Throttle Aerospace, a drone manufacturing company, AeoLogic, an analytics and software solution firm and Involia, which is a provider of air traffic awareness and collision avoidance services.
Testing of drone technology for last mile connectivity and cost-effective cargo deliveries is a big leap in the air transportation of essential and non-essential supplies in India, said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.
SpiceJet is optimistic about using this 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, he added.
SpiceXpress, which is the dedicated freighter arm of SpiceJet, has eight dedicated freighters in the fleet comprising five Boeing 737s and three Bombardier Q400s.
"Post trials and approvals, SpiceXpress plans to use drones to provide for a quicker, faster and a cost-effective delivery of medical, pharma and essential supplies and e-commerce products," the airline said.
It also said SpiceXpress will be looking at last-mile delivery from the warehouse and the prime focus will be on delivering medical emergency parcels and essential supplies in remote areas.
Drones will ensure a faster delivery bringing down costs and would go a long way to augment the airline's business to offer express delivery of medicines, perishable items and e-commerce, SpiceJet added.