Source CargoNewsWire Chinese delivery services giant SF Express’s trial to transport cargo in an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been successful, the company said.
Large UAV FH-98 took off from an airport in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Friday and landed at the destination airport in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region after a flight of around one hour, said SF Express.
It was the first trial by SF Express transport cargo using a large UAV.
FH-98 has been jointly developed by SF Express and China Aerospace Times Electronics Co., Ltd., based on the China-developed Y-5B freighter with a maximum takeoff weight of 5.25 tonnes, the FH-98 is among the largest UAVs in the country. It has been designed for large payloads up to 1.5 tonnes with a cabin space of 15 cubic meters.
The UAV model is capable of short takeoffs and landing and a cruising speed of 180 kph, thus making it suitable to serve a regional express hub and nearby cities. It is expected to greatly enhance the efficiency of regional logistics, said SF Express.
The company said it was the first time a large UAV has been used in a logistics project in China. SF Express said the drone would greatly reduce operating costs, to the point it could eventually compete with trucks.
SF Express in 2017 set up Fonair, a subsidiary, to handle business on the large UAV. To date, Fonair has been given permission to use nine air routes to conduct test flights.
In the future, the use of drones to carry cargo to rural communities that can be hard to reach using overland transport, or for transport to remote islands with infrequent ferry services is expected to increase.