AirAsia to launch drone delivery pilot project in partnership with Magic

March 7, 2021

It looks like drone-based deliveries will soon become a bigger thing in Malaysia. AirAsia has announced that they are partnering with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to launch a pilot project for the delivery of goods from AirAsia’s e-commerce platforms.

The pilot project is set to be carried out through a 6-month phased approach at the third National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) test site in Cyberjaya. They are currently testing out the service with two local drone operators—VStream Revolution and Meraque Services.

“…we are excited to be partnering with MaGIC to explore urban drone deliver—an innovative logistic solution that will ultimately improve efficiency and operational excellence as well as accelerate the pace of delivery in urban areas. Besides, drone delivery enables us to keep up with the ever growing demand for e-commerce,” said AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandez.

The first phase of the project is to assess the drone operators’ capabilities, experience, process, deployment readiness and service expansion. Once the trial phase is successful, the project will move “beyond the sandbox environment”.

NTIS has also been working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to make sure safety and security of Unmanned Air Services in urban settings meet the requirements and regulations. By taking care of the regulatory requirements, they hope it would accelerate the project from the research and development stage to it being commercially ready.

“NTIS is happy to invite other drone tech startups to scale up by connecting them with regulators, telcos and other ecosystem players… The pandemic has presented us with the opportunity to accelerate structural changes to the economy, in terms of digitisation, digitalisation, automation and robotics, and we must embrace that change to vault Malaysia towards becoming en innovation driven economy,” said Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Khairy Jamaluddin also notes that the DroneTech industry alone is expected to generate USD 127 billion (RM517 billion) by 2025. The global market size for just drone package delivery itself was USD 642.4 million (RM2.6 billion), and is expected to reach USD 7.3 billion (RM29.7 billion) in 2027.

“The drone delivery of goods can be expanded and scaled up beyond e-commerce, such a delivery of essential or medical supplies to areas that are rural, remote, or effected by natural disasters,” continued Khairy.

In April 2020, Singapore-based drone service, F-drones, has completed its first commercial Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone delivery. The drone delivered 2KG of vitamins over 2.7 km in a seven-minute flight, which took place off Marina South Pier. F-Drones is now developing a drone capable of handling payloads of up to 100kg.