US to be testbed for autonomous planes for Africa

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Kenya-based cargo airline Astral Aviation has signed a strategic collaboration with autonomous aircraft systems firm, Reliable Robotics to launch operations in sub-Saharan Africa

The companies will work together to develop operational, regulatory, and business plans while Reliable Robotics is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to certify its automation system on the Cessna 208 Caravan, and to begin commercial cargo operations in the US. It has already made aviation history with milestone flights in 2019 and 2021 in Northern California.

The collaboration with Astral Aviation will enable subsequent expansion into Africa where the Caravan is an essential utility aircraft with nearly 350 currently operating.

Astral Aviation founder and chief executive, Sanjeev Gadhia, explained: “Automation will enable us to serve more routes. We look forward to working with Reliable to safely transport larger payloads over longer distances at lower cost with remotely operated aircraft.”

“The African aviation sector is primed for change and automated aircraft can be part of the solution to the market’s constraints,” added co-founder and chief executive of Reliable Robotics, Robert Rose. “Astral has deep experience operating in Africa, and we share a vision for how automation and remotely piloted aircraft can help the region reach its economic potential with safer, more flexible and cost-efficient air transport.”

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