Skyports Drone Services and Carbonix partner on BVLOS expansion


Skyports Drone Services has partnered with Carbonix to scale beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations across Australia using its long-range VTOL aircraft.

Skyports will initially add specialist international drone pilots to the Carbonix team. The pilots will operate regular data acquisition missions for Carbonix’s energy and mining partners. Skyports said the pilots will improve operating procedures, with a long-term objective of building Carbonix’s operational capabilities.

Carbonix CEO, Philip van der Burg said: “Skyports Drone Services fills a gap with their scalable end-to-end operational experience in flying fixed-wing VTOL UAVs. We look forward to having their pilots enhance our BVLOS capabilities and forging a lasting partnership that sees both companies exchange knowledge and expertise.”  

The partnership with Carbonix marks Skyports Drone Services’ first commercial project in Australia. According to the firm, strong local demand in the UAV market was partly what prompted the deal.

Skyports Drone Services director, Alex Brown said: “We don’t just fly, we also lead on regulation, compliance, safety management, airspace, and stakeholder management. Our partnership with Carbonix will apply this knowledge to boost operational capabilities and enable the company to scale its infrastructure inspection services. Proving the safety case for drone operations is crucial to the long-term growth and success of the industry. We look forward to sharing our operational knowledge to support Carbonix and promote the adoption of drone operations.”

The first pilot to land in Australia is Matt Sturdy. A specialist in BVLOS aerial survey and inspection, Sturdy has led a range of deployments across the UK and Europe, including pathology and chemotherapy delivery for the UK National Health Service (NHS) and Detect and Avoid testing as part of a joint European project (SESAR). More pilots will come online in early October.

Sturdy said: “In my first few months here in Australia I’ve been focused on the development of best-in-class safety procedures, customer demonstrations and training with the Volanti aircraft to assist in the development of UAS use cases. Australia is on the brink of unlocking huge potential with drone operations and I’m grateful to be able to support this journey with the Carbonix team.”

Since the partnership began, Skyports has supported Carbonix on more than 85 long-range missions. The flight have covered over 1,500km across Australia inspecting power infrastructure for vegetation encroachment and asset management.