Aviation Ministry permits Telangana to use drones for delivery of vaccines

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Eds: Adds state governments reaction New Delhi/Hyderabad, Apr 30 (PTI) The Civil Aviation Ministry on Friday permitted the Telangana government to use drones for experimental delivery of vaccines within the visual line of sight.

The ministry's statement does not mention which particular vaccine will be part of this experimental delivery.

The ministry on Twitter said it has granted conditional exemption to the Telangana government from the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021, for 'conducting experimental delivery of vaccines using drones within the visual line of sight range'.

This exemption will be valid for a period of one year or until further orders, it noted.

On April 22, the ministry had permitted the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct a feasibility study on using drones to deliver COVID-19 vaccine.

An official release from the Telangana Government said the 'Medicine from the Sky' (MFTS) programme has been approved to undertake Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) feasibility studies for a year.

With the support and guidance of MoCA and DGCA, the state government has finally received the required approvals and exemptions to conduct these trials like no-objection from AAI on use of identified airspace in Vikarabad District, SOP approval for VLOS operations from DGCA, and UAS 2021 exemption from the ministry, it said.

Jayesh Ranjan, Telangana Principal Secretary, said the state is determined to leverage emerging technologies in the healthcare industry and the usage of drones ensures that primary healthcare is accessible in even the remote areas.

'The Medicine from the Sky trials would yield important information on the reliability of drones and their adoption in medical deliveries.' 'The approval from MoCA is highly appreciated and we look forward to working with the ministry in conducting these trials in the safest manner by strict adherence to SOPs and having risk mitigation strategies in place,' the official said.

The success of this programme has the potential to disrupt the healthcare industry and save many lives during emergencies and in less accessible geographies, he added.

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