Dronamics, the Bulgarian middle-mile cargo drone developer and operator, just announced the world’s first cargo droneport network, presenting partnerships with five airports in Europe – located in Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Italy, and Sweden. The launch of the network happens at a pivotal moment for the drone delivery industry in Europe with the EU’s first unified drone regulations set to kick-in on January 1st, 2021. Dronamics is already preparing for the necessary certification under the new rules, aiming to obtain operational authorization by the end of 2021 with the first commercial flights of same-day drone cargo services expected to begin in early 2022.
“The power of logistics to unlock economic value and opportunity is second to none. This is why especially in a post-2020 world, it is increasingly important to ensure same-day shipping is available not just in big cities, but in every community, no matter how small or remote. Now, more than ever before, it’s vital for countries to ensure uninterrupted trade and supply lines with their neighbors no matter what, and our international droneport network will allow just that. We are starting with Europe not just because our 2,500 km range allows us to cover the whole continent in one flight, but also because the EU and EASA have shown remarkable regulatory leadership in the field of air mobility, and we are happy to find such great airport partners who will work with us to pioneer this emerging technology,” says Svilen Rangelov, Co-Founder and CEO of Dronamics.
Within its European Droneport Network, Dronamics has already signed with private airports and airport groups operating in a total of more than 35 airports in 11 European countries and will aim to connect 300 million people with a low-cost same-day cargo service in 3 key verticals – e-commerce, pharma, and urgent shipments.
The first 5 airports in the network include both popular air cargo destinations as well as some emerging ones. For example, Liège Airport in Belgium serves as Alibaba’s European Hub and handled 902,000 tonnes of transported goods in 2019. On a similar note, Brescia Airport in Italy serves as the national hub for the Italian postal system and is a center for a significant number of e-commerce deliveries. According to Dronamics, the other three revealed locations – Skövde in Sweden, Seinäjoki in Finland, and Osijek in Croatia – are on a path to becoming regional air cargo logistics hubs through ambitious investment programs.
“The remaining 30 airports are only the first part of our larger goal. In Bulgaria and in many other places in Europe air cargo transport touches a very small fraction of cities even though the infrastructure is often present. There are over 3,000 airports and runways in Europe, so we are only at 1% so far,” tells us Rangelov.
As part of the roll-out, Dronamics will base its standardized droneport equipment (cameras, antennas, on-ground stations, etc.) at each location and will provide same-day domestic and international coverage to the local communities, hiring and training local staff to operate and handle the Dronamics flights. The airports will serve as hubs for new route developments, while enabling new business opportunities for the network’s members, both directly in the form of increased cargo throughput and expanded ground operations, and indirectly in the form of increasing access to the local economy for same-day pan-European flights.
“The partnership with Dronamics is key for us in this critical time of high demand for air freight. Earlier this year the whole world saw the effects that border closings and strict quarantine measures had on global supply chains, as the world was and still is combating the Covid-19 pandemic. But when you have a way to move cargo without traveling with it, supply chains become lockdown-proof. Joining the strategic positioning of Brescia – in the center of the industrial Italian territory – as an airport that can service international unmanned cargo and serve as a gateway for Italy within this emerging market is a truly exciting opportunity,” commented Massimo Roccasecca, Group Cargo Director at SAVE Group, the operator of Brescia Airport.
Each of the Black Swan fixed-wing cargo drones will have a capacity of 350 kg and range of up to 2,500 km, and as stated by Dronamics should reduce time, cost and emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional air cargo. “We’re working with several of the largest forwarders and couriers to provide capacity for their customers, as well as with a number of key accounts directly on more custom solutions. We’re B2B and in Europe, we’re looking to serve both larger accounts and SMEs,” adds Rangelov.
Based between Sofia and London, Dronamics was founded in 2014 by the Rangelov brothers, an economist and an aerospace engineer. Since then, the company has spent a few years on R&D and created a working prototype at a 1:4 scale. In the meantime, Dronamics has also received numerous awards for drone innovation and has been funded by Founders Factory, Speedinvest and Bulgarian VC Eleven.
The next three big milestones for the Dronamics team will be to complete the full-scale version of its cargo drone, successfully go through ground and in-flight tests, and, of course, launch its first commercial flights.
“Same-day shipping should be a human right and we are looking forward to further expanding our network of distribution centers both in Europe and worldwide, in order to serve the increasing demands of customers for fast, reliable, and cost-efficient air deliveries. Our end goal is to enable same-day air deliveries for every single person on the planet at a cost that everyone everywhere can afford, and we’re extremely happy that so many great partners are joining us on the journey to making this a reality,” shares Rangelov.