The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has begun assessment of Fly Zipline’s facilities as part of processes to license the drones operator to undertake the distribution of essential medicines and blood in the country
Per the GCAA’s 2016 directives, all drone operators are mandated to register with the Authority and observe safety and various drone-operations restricted areas in line with international aviation rules.
“Drone operations is on the increase and the ICAO has come out with manuals and guidelines to guide and control the operations of drones because, invariably, drones will share the space with manned aircraft and you want to make sure they comply with the rules of general civil aviation,” Ing. Simon Allotey, Director-General of the GCAA told B&FT shortly after a flag raising ceremony to mark this year’s International Civil Aviation Day in Accra.
He added that: “Now we have big players like Fly Zipline coming in. They are working with the GCAA, we visited their premises, and we have set-up a joint committee to take them through certification for the drones they will sue for their operations.
Apart from Zipline, there are other drone operators. We are looking at adding additional directives on security and privacy. Most of the existing directives now border on safety of drone operations, but drones could be used for espionage or they could be fitted with weapons. So together with national security, we will soon provide these additional directives,
Drones for life-saving job
The Ministry of Health is set to launch the largest and most advanced medical drone delivery network in the world.
The drone delivery network, which will be run by the Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Health, will give the country the most advanced health care supply chain on the planet, he noted.
The cost of the service in Ghana at full operations is US$88,000 per distribution centre per month. This equates to US$352,000 per month for all 4 distribution centres, or US$4,224,000 per year for all 4 distribution centres.
This price is discounted during Fly Zipline, the drones operator, ramp-up to make sure that Ghana only pays for the service as and when Zipline makes it available.
There is also a US$11,000 per month on-time payment discount, which will apply as long as the service fee was timely paid in the previous month.
Taking into account the on-time payment discount and the discounted ramp up, the estimated total 4-year cost of the contract is approximately US$12.5million.
Ghana will offset this cost by obtaining corporate social responsibility contributions from private sector contributors.
Among the terms of the service agreement is that Zipline is required to meet detailed performance requirements, such as range, payload, and number of flights per day.
The Ministry of Health will not own the facilities or equipment, so it bears no risk for construction cost overruns, maintenance costs, or technology obsolescence. It will only pay if Zipline meets its service commitments.
On value for money, he noted that the project is expected to serve over 2,500 facilities – meaning that the MoH will be paying only US$175 per facility per month for 24/7 instant access to almost any emergency supply the facility may need.
Zipline is expected to employ over 200 Ghanaians including pharmacists, engineers, flight operations, among others.