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Cause explained Post resumes drone flights after Zurich accident

A drone carrying Post cargo, as seen in summer 2018

A drone carrying Post cargo, as seen in summer 2018

(© Keystone / Walter Bieri)

Swiss Post is to restart drone flights for healthcare services, which were grounded after an accident involving a drone on Lake Zurich in January.

The drone, carrying a blood sample, malfunctioned during a test phase of a medical deliveries programme.

+ Read more about what happened here

It was able to “initiate a controlled emergency landing and landed on Lake Zurich, according to a statement released by Swiss Post on Fridayexternal link. Nobody was hurt, and the drone was later recovered by city of Zurich police, as can be seen here.

However, all drone flights on the scheme were stopped temporarily.

The cause is now known: the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) has given the cause of the accident as a short circuit, Swiss Post said.

Matternetexternal link, the American manufacturer, has made several modifications to the drones, which have been approved by officials at the Federal Office of Civil Aviation.

Safety a priority

“Swiss Post and Matternet will now resume flights for their customers in Zurich and Lugano [in southern Switzerland] from 15 April 2019,” the statement said. Swiss Post stressed that safety was “the highest priority”.

“Postal drones” have so far carried out more than 3,000 flights without accident in Lugano, Zurich and Bern. Swiss Post describes itself as a pioneer in Switzerland for autonomous and commercial drones, in the medical domain, saying the service is faster, more flexible and environmentally friendly than ground transportation.

Rescue drones

Also on Friday, Swiss air rescue service Rega announcedexternal link that it had developed a special drone that can search for missing people across large areas. It is equipped with various sensors, such as a thermal camera.

The drone will be used in addition to conventional rescue methods and, for example, be used in cases where the helicopter is grounded due to poor visibility, Rega said.

Rega CEO Ernst Kohle said that Rega had “continually used cutting-edge technology” to further improve air rescue and help people in distress.


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