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DDC partners with Astral Aerial in Kenya


September 29, 2020
By Wings Staff


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Astral Aviation was established in Kenya more than 20 years ago as a cargo operation and today runs a drone-delivery-focused operation called Astral Aerial, highlighted by efforts around the FLYOX amphibious cargo UAV. (Photo: Astral Aviation)

Drone Delivery Canada Corp., with the assistance of its sales agent Air Canada, signed a Letter of Intent with Astral Aerial Solutions Limited based in Nairobi, Kenya, to jointly develop Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems delivery platforms in the African country.

Astral Aerial is an affiliate of Astral Aviation, which is an established all-cargo airline with more than 20 years of operational experience and a fleet of 14 freighter aircraft – accessing a network of 50 destinations across Africa and Europe. Astral Aerial is now leveraging drones for a range of applications like logistics, aerial photography, aerial surveillance, and inspections. This includes Wingcopter and DJI remotely controlled aerial vehicles, in addition to efforts to deploy the unique FLYOX amphibious cargo UAV, which holds a payload of up to 1,850 kg and max range of 1,200 km.

Under terms of the new Letter of Intent (LOI), Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) and Astral Aerial plan to jointly work with national regulator Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to identify and analyze market opportunities in Kenya for DDC’s drone delivery solution. The intent, explains DDC, is to work toward a definitive agreement for the market.

“There are numerous potential applications from traditional last-mile cargo to mining, oil and gas, healthcare, humanitarian aid and infrastructure inspection services,” said Michael Zahra, President and CEO, DDC. “Astral Aerial’s parent company, Astral Aviation, has a global, award-winning reputation and we look forward to a commercial relationship with them.”

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Drone Delivery Canada has produced three Condor aircraft, expecting commercialization after more testing in the fourth quarter of 2020. (Photo: Drone Delivery Canada)

At the start of September 2020, Drone Delivery Canada provided an update on the testing of its Condor drone taking place in Foremost, Alberta. The Condor is currently the company’s largest drone with an expected range of 200 kilometres and a payload capacity of 180 kilograms.

DDC Condor tests in Foremost

“We are honoured to co-operate with Drone Delivery Canada, and to learn from their experience in providing innovative drone-based logistics platforms in Canada that can be applied in Africa,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aerial Solutions and Astral Aviation. “The Canadian technology can benefit various sectors in Africa especially in Healthcare and accessibility to Remote Communities.”

Astral Aerial was recognized by Airbus as one of Africa’s Top 10 Tech Startups in 2018 and the company won the IATA Cargo Innovation Award in 2017. It was also recognized by the World Bank for being the leader in Data Analytics and Agricultural Intelligence during its Disruptive Agricultural Technology competition. The operation also plans to establish a training academy to empower youth in Africa with online-based training opportunities.