Medical transport by drones: Lazio Region and ENAC sign memorandum of understanding

Aeroporti di Roma and Leonardo stage demonstrations flight at Fiumicino airport for the transportation of medicines, plasma, organs and medical devices with drones. With the Memorandum of Understanding just signed between the Region and Enac – Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile (Italian Civil Aviation Authority), as part of the promotion of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), Lazio is leading the way in the experimentation that will start in 2023.

Thanks to the Memorandum of Cooperation, signed today between the Lazio Region and Italian Civil Aviation Authority, Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile (ENAC), as part of an effort to promote Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), Lazio will be one of the first Italian regions to launch a project of this kind. This technologically advanced system will strengthen and improve the services offered by regional health authorities, allowing them to act more promptly and effectively by flexibly exploiting the third dimension: the airspace dimension. Set to launch in 2023, the initiative is part of a vaster Advanced Air Mobility project that will also be able to transport people and goods in the future.

The Memorandum signed this morning between the President of the Lazio Region, Nicola Zingaretti and President of ENAC, Pierluigi Di Palma, will have a duration of three years. The project foresees several key stages, which include a study of the regulatory environment (in terms of both the aeronautical and urban planning, operational and technical aspects), analysis of the routes that can be used, and the infrastructure required for performing air mobility services in the Lazio region. Thanks to this partnership with ENAC, we will be able to individualise and develop solutions that will enable drones to deliver medicines, plasma, organs, medical devices and biomedical samples when needed.

The Advanced Air Mobility system applied to this form of transport, will allow for the integrated use of the airspace dimension as an alternative to land mobility, with several advantages that will improve patients’ lives and how we deal emergencies. The system will also have a low, local environmental impact, thanks to reduced energy consumption, noise and emissions.

The Memorandum was signed in the presence of Laurent Sissmann, Senior Vice President Unmanned Systems of Leonardo and Ivan Bassato Chief Aviation Officer of Aeroporti di Roma, the project’s technical partners. The meeting also saw the unveiling of an experimental sandbox area, created by Leonardo and AdR, in which an electrically-propelled drone simulated the urgent transportation of biomedical material from the airport to the city centre in automatic control mode. For several years now, Leonardo has been involved in important experiments in advanced air mobility. Fiumicino’s sandbox, one of the first in Europe to be located near a major international airport, will now enable Leonardo – in partnership with Aeroporti di Roma, in coordination with ENAC and ENAY – to test out new operational concepts and accelerate the technological, regulatory and procedural development process, while also supporting regulatory evolution, with the objective of moving from experimentation to the provision of essential services for the public.

AdR is also actively working on the design of the ground facilities – the so-called vertiports – and facilitating the operational roll-out of the service to Rome, with a challenging deadline to launch the first commercial operations between Fiumicino airport and the city of Rome in 2024.

The Memorandum is part of a broader process that ENAC has launched with the various regions and metropolitan cities to gather information on their needs and help develop an ecosystem for the gradual implementation of intelligent air mobility that serves individual members of the public and the broader community. ENAC’s goal and mission are to improve the publics’ quality of life by introducing innovative services that exploit the ‘third dimension’: the airspace dimension. In fact, Advanced Air Mobility is a technological and operational concept that will allow for the transportation of people, goods, supplies, and medication, and allow for the creation of new services. This will be achieved primarily through the use of highly innovative and sustainable vertical take-off landing (VTOL) electric aircraft, which can be routed via dedicated air corridors, optimising travel times, and reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

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