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Drones in cities: balancing big benefits against real dangers

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – The mainstream media may have missed it, but an extraordinary event recently occurred in aviation history.

From mid-March to early April, Swiss Post and drone developer Matternet completed 70 test flights of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) between two hospitals over the city of Lugano, Switzerland. The drones flew a bit less than two kilometres, a bit beyond an operator’s line-of-sight, and carried laboratory samples. The flight was automated, although a remote pilot remained on stand-by in case of a malfunction.

Aviation observers believe these flights may have been among the world’s…

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