Air Methods, Wingcopter Collaborating to Create Drone-Based Health Care-Specific Delivery Network

Aerail photograph of agricultural fields, and residential area with Barr Lake near Denver, Colorado.

Air medical service provider, Air Methods, recently launched a drone solution designed to improve access to health care and reduce supply chain issues.

The solution, known as Spright, in collaboration with German drone manufacturer Wingcopter, will create a UAS-based delivery network across the U.S. that’s specific to health care, according to a news release. Air Methods plans to improve access to medical supplies by deploying fleets of Wingcopter’s new autonomous eVTOL delivery drone, the Wingcopter 198. The nationwide network will be built around Air Methods’ existing infrastructure of more than 300 bases that serves hundreds of hospitals in 48 states, mostly in rural areas.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated some of the real challenges in our health care system creating an opportunity to find better solutions to extend access to health care, especially in rural America,” said JaeLynn Williams, CEO of Air Methods, according to the release. “That is why we are doing what Air Methods does best, taking to the skies, using the latest in technology and drone innovation, delivering hope and facilitating healing with speed and efficiency that was previously unimaginable. We see Spright serving a vastly underserved market and playing a huge role in a future full of better outcomes for everyone.”

Spright is partnering with Hutchinson Regional Medical System, in Hutchinson, Kansas, to launch its initial pilot project using the delivery drones this fall. The project will provide a proof of concept of how this network can help ensure rural areas get the medical resources they need.

The drone features the company’s patented tilt-rotor technology for vertical take-off and landing. It also enables efficient forward flight over long ranges, eliminating the need for additional infrastructure. The drone has a range of up to 68 miles (110 kilometers), a maximum speed of 90 mph (145 kilometers per hour) and can carry a payload of up to 13 lbs. (6 kg).

“Our technology has been used globally to effectively deliver medical supplies, for example insulin in Ireland, children’s vaccines in Vanuatu, emergency medication in Malawi, and just recently, blood samples in Germany,” Wingcopter Co-Founder and CEO Tom Plümmer said, according to the release. “Our vision to ‘save and improve lives’ resonates perfectly with Air Methods’ legacy of providing lifesaving care, combined with Spright’s ambition to improve the quality of health care across the U.S. by deploying fleets of Wingcopters, and we are excited about scaling this together.”