The world’s first two-way medical drone logistics network in Vanuatu
The Government of Vanuatu—supported by UNICEF, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s innovationXchange—awarded Swoop Aero the world’s first commercial contract to provide medical drone logistics services.
The purpose of these services was to help achieve the “last mile” vaccine delivery to the 20% of children living on remote islands who did not have reliable access to vaccines. Swoop Aero became the world’s first provider of a drone-based vaccine delivery service, using our Kookaburra aircraft.
Vanuatu is an island country in the Pacific, an archipelago of 83 islands that covers approximately 1,600 kilometres. It is estimated that only one-third of the inhabited islands have permanent airfields and established roads, which creates considerable logistical challenges to reach, engage, and support remote island communities.
Previously, health workers carried vaccinations in ice boxes across treacherous mountain footpaths, or transported them across dangerous and unpredictable waters using fragile ‘banana boats.’ Most villages have no electricity, which is needed for refrigeration to keep the vaccines at the correct temperature.
The World Health Organisation estimates that one in five of Vanuatu’s children misses out on their essential childhood vaccines due to the geographical barriers that hinder the availability, accessibility, and quality of essential health supplies.
We set up a pilot program integrated drone network to provide on-demand delivery of vaccines, pharmaceuticals, test kits, and other supplies to those in need.
On 18 December 2018 in Cook’s Bay, on the remote side of Vanuatu’s Erromango Island, a one-month-old baby named Joy became the first child in the world to receive a vaccine delivered by drone thanks to Swoop Aero.
The network success
Operational flights conducted.
of high-value medical supplies delivered.
and assessed for BVLOS flights under CAA-NZ Part 102 requirements.
emergency deliveries were made of Oxytocin to mothers suffering from postpartum haemorrhaging.
Continuing our work in Vanuatu
By demonstrating a high level of aviation operations maturity, we were granted nine operational approvals from CAAV. This facilitated the full capability to execute autonomous aircraft flights in integrated airspace, servicing every village without restriction.
Creating vibrant community ownership and pride
By demonstrating a high level of aviation operations maturity, we were granted nine operational approvals from CAAV. This gave us full capability to execute autonomous aircraft flights in integrated airspace, servicing every village without restriction.