SOME of the best pilots in the UK, inclding one from York, are flying Covid-19 Test and Trace samples by drones in a pioneering move to ease pressure on the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

The drones are being piloted by former RAF, Royal Navy and combat helicopter pilots who are recognised as the top drone trainers in the UK and all work for leading unmanned aircraft training company Flyby Technology, which is based in York.

Flyby founder Jon Parker, himself a former RAF fighter pilot, said: “We are talking about the kind of aerial innovation here that has been missing since the days of the Apollo space missions and it has moved forward exceptionally quickly over the last few months.

"We are learning some great lessons from our successes so far.”

Flyby Technology is part of the British Drone Consortium, which is flying live Covid samples to laboratories from hospitals and tests sites in support of NHS Test and Trace.

Jon went on to say: “It’s a privilege for the British Drone Consortium to be called upon in the NHS’ hour of need.

"The drones are supplementing current logistics, keeping the testing machines operating to capacity. This makes the whole system more efficient, bringing to bear the full capacity of the testing infrastructure."

The drones will also carry test kits and personal protection equipment between hospitals and will mean delivery can be quick, reducing pressure on NHS staff, avoiding unnecessary physical contact and minimising the risk of secondary transmission of the virus.

The first project is based at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, part of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, and is being run by a company called Apian Ltd, founded by clinical entrepreneurs and doctors Hammad Jeilani and Christopher Law.