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JAPAN: JAL drone delivers emergency goods within mountainous region

By Chris Stonor

This week, Japan Airlines (JAL) flew a drone carrying emergency relief goods over a city in a mountainous area of western Japan, reports The trial flight, aimed at opening up delivery services, was cut short due to adverse winds.

The test began with a fixed-wing drone taking off from a park in Yabu, Hyogo Prefecture, and then flying at up to 30 kilometres per hour over a city area.

The craft had been scheduled to deliver the goods, including medicines, to a clinic around 5 km away, but was grounded due to safety concerns as the wind unexpectedly changed direction.

Masato Kunezaki, a JAL official in charge of the drone project, commented that the Airline now “would test different types of drones that are more resilient to wind.”

As the pandemic takes a heavy toll on passenger flights, JAL is  looking to expand its drone by utilising past expertise in safe flights.

Back in the early spring, JAL partnered with drone service provider, Terra Drone, and the Yabu City government to trial drone services in a bid to solve challenges faced by regional areas where transportation networks are poor amid depopulation. JAL succeeded in flying a drone between a hospital and a clinic more than 20 km away in the city.

While earlier this month, JAL trialled a small-sized unmanned helicopter in a remote town of Shinkamigoto on the Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

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