Drone logistics: Swiss Post to establish a board of experts on safety

After a drone crashed in Zurich, Swiss Post is refining its safety processes. In addition to various other measures, Swiss Post has decided to establish a board of experts. This board will advise and guide Swiss Post regarding risk and safety management for all aspects of the drone flight operations in the future. Swiss Post’s aim is to align its risk and safety management with normal aviation standards.

On 9 May 2019, a drone crashed over a Zurich forest. No one was injured during the incident. As a precautionary measure, Swiss Post decided to ground all drones until further notice.

Swiss Post to establish a board of experts

Swiss Post places great importance on safety in drone logistics. For this reason, we are now using this time for extensive testing of the processes and safety mechanisms. Swiss Post has decided to establish a board of experts. This board will scrutinize all processes related to risk and safety management. Swiss Post’s aim is to align its risk and safety management with normal aviation standards. The board of experts will consist of independent experts, the manufacturers, Swiss Post and customers. The first steps are already underway.

Additional measures for safe operation

It is not acceptable to Swiss Post that the safety measures have not worked. Swiss Post expects the manufacturer of the drones to ensure that safety mechanisms such as the parachute work properly. As such, we have asked Matternet to implement various urgent measures:

  • The parachute ropes are now reinforced with metal braiding.
  • The parachute will be attached to the drone with two ropes rather than one.
  • The shrill whistle, which alerts people near the drone when it is making an emergency landing, will be made louder.

By implementing these changes, Swiss Post is following the recommendations from the interim report produced by the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB).

Swiss Post has integrated additional safety margins in the wind limits for flight operations. The limits are now around 20% lower than the Federal Office of Civil Aviation requirements.

  • The limit for constant wind is now 6 m/s instead of 8 m/s.
  • The limit for gusts of wind is now 10 m/s rather than 12 m/s.
  • The maximum speed of the drone will be reduced from 20 m/s to 17 m/s.

Swiss Post to continue pioneering work in drone logistics in the future

Drones are a relatively young technology. Swiss Post is performing worldwide pioneering work that benefits patients. However, pioneering work also involves special responsibilities. This is something we are conscious of. For this reason, Swiss Post is establishing a board of experts. Transporting urgent consignments such as lab samples is at the heart of drone logistics for Swiss Post. We will continue to use drone technology. Swiss Post believes that drones can make an important contribution to efficient healthcare. The advantages have been proved during operations: drones can transport urgently required consignments more quickly, efficiently and ecologically than a courier travelling by road. In addition, they have high operational availability. This means that Swiss Post’s service offers doctors, caregivers and patients added value which is particularly important within the healthcare sector.

For further information:

Léa Wertheimer, Media Relations, 058 341 08 84, presse@post.ch

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