Operation Last-Mile: Critical Drone Delivery Testing Report

● Maintaining command and control of flight operations is critical. During operations with simultaneous multiple flights, the software can be used to assist the situational awareness of the commander. Consolidated video feeds from active drones are a good start.

12 Lessons Learned

Summary of Lessons Learned

Many participants reported that the exercise was a great experience and success. The consensus is that commercial drones can be used to deliver critical supplies over distances of less than a mile by Part 107 pilots not specifically trained in these types of operations prior to being called into service. But, this first-of-its-kind exercise was intended as a testing and learning opportunity and there were many lessons learned. One of the common comments was, “we’d never actually deliver to drop zones so close to obstacles”. This is absolutely true. In a real-world scenario, drop zones would be chosen that were out in the open, away from power lines, buildings, and trees. ​ DroneUp ​ purposely designed the (7) tests to be more difficult than would generally be experienced in the real world so we could be confident that our success would carry over into the real world. Another common observation was that we would not be able to rely on highly qualified VO being so close to the drop zones in a quarantine situation. This observation is also valid. But, we performed the most difficult test, a night drop surrounded by tight obstacles, with a layperson VO and it was a success. After observing and listening to the communication for 100 deliveries, we believe that an experienced RPIC or LoadMaster can quickly coach a layperson VO on how to provide valuable directional and altitude feedback during the drop operation. This is especially true if the volunteer VO has a public safety background or another rigorous background such as working in the medical field.


The most common recommendations came in the area of communication. Feedback was provided on phrases and words used, team communication, and the use of radios. Here, observations and recommendations regarding communication from the Operation Last-Mile participants. ● Drop Zone Takeover: To position the drone for a drop, VO’s must clearly accept responsibility-for and then take over the process of guiding the drone by providing concise direction to the RPIC. To coordinate this hand-off, the RPIC should say a pre-agreed command, such as, “Green VO, Green Base...Take us in.” This lets the VO know that he has control of where the drone goes to line up for and make the drop. It would be good for the flight teams to practice the mission communication via role play

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