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DHL Express Malaysia has teamed up with Pen Aviation to commercialise time-critical goods deliveries using drones.

Pen Aviation is expected to undertake a proof-of-commercialisation (PoC) by this month to demonstrate the commercial viability of cargo drone delivery for port logistics missions.

Founder and managing director Jean-Bernard Boura said the PoC would be followed by certification exercise with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia before it can commercially deploy the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) by the year end.

Drone delivery services like medical drone delivery and just in time industrial delivery have already proven successful in the commercial market. This Malaysian POC will “specifically explore the deployment of drones to facilitate port logistics, entailing logistics and distribution activities for goods at commercial ports,” says the announcement. Drone delivery has significant value to offer ports, where processes have been further snarled by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“This exercise will be performed in accordance with the Civil Aviation Directive CAD 6011, a regulation by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia which allows for the development of unmanned aircraft technologies,” says the announcement. “The drones will be operated by certified pilots to pick-up and drop off packages weighing up to 12kg, with a distance of up to 50km from containers on cargo ships to the port and vice versa.”

Exploring cargo delivery by drone reflects Raya’s commitment to reducing emissions, says the announcement: “Apart from adapting to the changing logistics landscape, this will also allow Raya Airways to improve cost optimisation and enhance environmental sustainability, as drones optimizes energy consumption, thus reducing carbon emissions.”

Mohamad Najib Ishak, Group Managing Director of Raya Airways Sdn. Bhd. said “We are extremely delighted to partner with Pen Aviation to continue developing new revenue streams by reshaping our products and services to offer safe, certified and reliable innovations to cater to more time-definite services. Complementing our expertise with Pen Aviation’s technical capabilities, we are confident that we will be able to contribute to the sustainable growth of the industry, particularly in Malaysia. With increasing demand for efficient and cost-effective freight forwarding services, the POC is timely as it paves the way for Raya Airways to strengthen our position as a mid-mile provider and build future capabilities to serve Asia and the Asia Pacific region, with a cargo drone fleet capable of flying up to 1,000kg of goods.”

The POC allows Pen Aviation to undertake first- to last-mile port logistics missions jointly conducted by DHL Express and Raya Airways. Raya plans to add a “Drone-As-a-Service” (DaaS) to it’s range of offerings, operating a mixed fleet of PEN55V and PEN1360V heavy lift cargo drones.

DHL Express Malaysia said the partnership would enhance its logistics capabilities to transport time-critical goods between ship decks and commercial ports.

DHL Express Malaysia and Brunei managing director Julian Neo said cargo drones would be the next generation of transportation in logistics.

“This PoC comes in the wake of the recent 12th Malaysia Plan announcement as the government highlighted the importance of seamless connectivity and reliability in transport and logistics,” he said.

Neo said the use of drone technology would enable DHL Express to reach rural communities especially in Sabah and Sarawak where critical items such as vaccines, medicines, and medical devices would be needed.

Under the MoU, DHL and Pen Aviation will certify and use PEN55V drones to move shipments to seaports over long distances.

PEN55V, Pen Aviation’s medium-size cargo drone, will pick up and drop off packages weighing up to 12kg from the cargo ship deck to the port and vice versa, both in the day and at night.

The long-term goal is to set up a mixed fleet of PEN55V and PEN1360V, Pen Aviation’s heavy-size cargo drones designed and manufactured in partnership with Cavok-UAS.

PEN55V has a fly range of 50km with a maximum takeoff weight of about 55kg and payload capped at 15kg.

“The endurance is about 2.5 hours and it can fly at 110km/h maximum speed. It has vertical takeoff and landing capability. It does not need any runway and with limited infrastructure for take off and land. It can fly up 3,500m in altitude,” said Boura.

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