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Islanders in Orkney are set to get mail deliveries much quicker

Orkney has become the first location in the UK to have mail delivered by drone.

The Orkney I-Port operation has been launched by Royal Mail and drone firm Skyports to distribute letters and parcels between the islands.

In partnership with the council’s harbour authority and Loganair, mail will be transported from Royal Mail’s Kirkwall delivery office to Stromness.

From there, drones will carry items to Graemsay and Hoy where postal staff will complete their delivery routes.

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While the service will initially operate for three months, it could be continued on a permanent basis under existing regulatory frameworks due to Orkney’s unique landscape and the proximity of the islands to one another.

The drone service is expected to significantly improve service levels and delivery times to Graemsay and Hoy, as weather and geography can cause disruption to delivery services.

The use of electric drones for inter-island delivery will also bring significant safety improvements by ensuring postal workers can deliver between ports without risk.

Skyports will conduct the inter-island flights with the Speedbird Aero DLV-2 aircraft. The multirotor drone is capable of carrying payloads of up to 6kg (1st).

The project has been funded by the Department for Transport’s Freight Innovation Fund and carried out by the Connected Places Catapult.

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 most 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.”

Alex Brown, director of Skyports Drone Services, said: “By leveraging drone technology, we are revolutionising mail services in remote communities, providing more efficient and timely delivery, and helping to reduce the requirement for emissions-producing vehicles.

“We’re pleased to be once again partnering with Royal Mail to demonstrate how drone operations can benefit UK logistics on this project.”

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