In a breakthrough for logistics and healthcare innovation, Swiss-based RigiTech and France’s largest laboratory group Biogroup, have obtained flight authorisations to begin regular Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) flights between Biogroup’s laboratories in Bourgoin-Jallieu and Tignieu-Jameyzieu.
Representing a major milestone for both partners, this route is the first approved recurrent drone delivery route to take place within controlled airspace in France, and one of the firsts in Europe. “Drone regulations in Europe are constantly evolving to increase flexibility for drone operations. But because of its novelty and differences from traditional aviation, the whole industry has yet much to learn. I’m very proud to have participated in this process. These authorisations are helping the whole industry to push the limits of what can be done, without compromising on safety,” says Alejandro Del Estal, Head of Operations at RigiTech.
A display of incredibly successful inter-agency collaboration, this project is possible thanks to the participation and continuous communication with the Direction Générale de L’Aviation Civile (DGAC), Direction des Services de la Navigation Aérienne (DSNA), the local teams and control towers at Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport, the Heliport of the Centre Hospitalier Pierre Oudot (Bourgoin-Jallieu), and Frontonas airbase, Clearance, as well as indispensable feedback from the Prefecture of Isère and support from the local Bourgoin-Jallieu and Tignieu-Jameyzieu municipalities.
This first route will connect laboratories located 17.6 km apart in only 15 minutes. An immediate benefit for patients at Biogroup facilities will be the reduction in delivery time by 50%, as this route usually takes 30 minutes by car. This way, biological samples can be transported from local clinics around the area directly to the main laboratory for processing and analysis, enabling a faster diagnosis and faster access to the proper treatment.
RigiTech’s Eiger drone is designed specifically to ensure cold-chain transportation of blood and biological samples, as well as other medical products including vaccines and medicine. Its large payload bay allows for efficient, long-distance flights, making the most of this sustainable delivery solution.
As Biogroup joins the RigiTech board of directors, the newly released authorisations represent a significant first step in RigiTech’s goal to develop Europe’s largest inter-laboratory drone delivery network, encompassing multiple routes that will connect some of the over 900 Biogroup clinics and laboratories in France, Spain and throughout Europe.