Solent Airport sees first drone flight to transport medical supplies from mainland to the Isle of Wight

A CUSTOM-BUILT drone has completed its first flight, transporting medical supplies from Lee-on-the-Solent to the Isle of Wight, as one of several ‘lifeline’ flights supported by the airport.

Monday, 11th May 2020, 12:14 pm
Updated Monday, 11th May 2020, 4:57 pm
Leader of Fareham Borough Council Sean Woodward Picture by: Malcolm Wells

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed and built by the University of Southampton and drone company Windracers took off from Solent Airport to deliver medical supplies to Binstead on the Isle of Wight on Saturday.

The supplies were taken by road to St Mary’s Hospital, marking the first delivery with the aid of the custom-built drone, which can carry up to 100kg.

It comes as Solent Airport remains closed for general aviation activities due to the nationwide lockdown – but it has proved to be a ‘fantastic’ asset providing a range of ‘lifeline’ flights, according to Fareham council leader Sean Woodward.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A UAV drone designed and built by the University of Southampton for Windracers to transport medical supplies.

Emergency flights from the airport have included a DA-42 aircraft delivering ventilator parts across the area, a repatriation flight to Guernsey, and a series of search and rescue operations from the coastguard.

Read More

Read More
School reopening plan is 'reckless' says Portsmouth teacher and union leader fol...

Cllr Woodward said: ‘In its former life as HMS Daedalus, Solent Airport was a vital asset for the Royal Navy and indeed the busiest airfield in the country on D-Day.

‘Roll forward 76 years and the airport is once again proving to be a valuable resource for those who need it at a time of national crisis.’

The drone delivery was part of a project that has received more than £28m from the Department for Transport – but the airport, which is owned by the council and has seen the authority spend more £30m on it, has received no support from central government.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘Fuel sales were very significant in terms of the revenue costs of running the airport.

‘But we have seen a huge reduction in the number of flights at the airport – we’ve gone from expecting thousands of flights to hundreds of flights.

‘It’s another hit on the council’s finances. Most of the staff at the airport have been furloughed.’

Essential flights are still able to the use the airport for refuelling, and a Beech 200 aircraft remains on standby for any medical evacuations or emergencies.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit our Subscription page now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.