Royal Mail’s drone delivery service, the first of its kind in the UK, has been temporarily suspended after one of its drones crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on 27 November.

Skyports Drone Services, Royal Mail’s operational partner on the drone project, explained the drone malfunctioned while flying between the islands of Hoy and Graemsay and was put into a “controlled descent” by the operator.

This resulted in the deployment of an onboard parachute via a remote monitor, an event classified by Skyports as a “rarity”.

The drone sank, but the company said it was not carrying cargo at the time and there was no damage to people or property.

The incident is currently under investigation.

Skyport has put a temporary stop to all inter-island deliveries while it evaluates the incident along with the drone’s manufacturer Speedbird Aero.

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The drone used for the operations is the Speedbird Aero’s DLV-2 drone.

As previously reported, the drone project began on a three-month trial “with the possibility of being extended if successful”.

A spokesperson for Skyports Drone Services told Airport Technology its plan to restart services: “Our operations in Orkney have demonstrated a strong and successful track record, with the aircraft having completed hundreds of flights and reliably delivering parcels.

“These flights have not only showcased the efficiency and effectiveness of our service but have also received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the community,” they said.

We are dedicated to improving access, connectivity and sustainability with our electric drone services and plan to relaunch services by early next week (week commencing 11/12).”

Royal Mail in collaboration with Skyports announced the launch of the Orkney I-Port operation in August 2023, which would cater to three islands across Scotland’s Orkney Archipelago.

The daily ferry service between Stromness, Graemsay, and Hoy will be utilised to continue to deliver mail to island inhabitants.