Plans lodged for Canberra's drone hangar in Mitchell
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Plans lodged for Canberra's drone hangar in Mitchell

Household drone delivery company Wing has lodged plans to establish a permanent base in Mitchell, as it prepares to launch into Canberra's northern suburbs.

The tech company is planning to spend about $1.1 million to transform an existing warehouse on Vicars Street into a base for its drones, which are set to offer deliveries into nearby Gungahlin, Harrison, Franklin, Palmerston and Crace from early next year.

Artist impression of drone delivery company Wing's proposed Mitchell headquarters

Artist impression of drone delivery company Wing's proposed Mitchell headquarters

It comes as residents opposed to Wing's trial in Bonython this week presented a 1000-signature petition to the ACT Assembly, which urged parliamentarians to block the company's push into Canberra's north.

Wing is spruiking its Mitchell operation as a potential economic boon for the ACT, with predictions the drones will slash overheads for businesses and cut delivery times for customers.

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The US-based company expects to hire about 24 workers to run the Mitchell facility, which will include food preparation for business whose products are being delivered, as well as office space.

It plans to offer about 30-50 deliveries a day when the service launches, with a view to increasing the frequency of flights as customer number increase.

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Plans for the headquarters are subject to ACT government approval, while Wing will need to get permission from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority before it starts deliveries around Gungahlin.

On Friday, Wing released research it commissioned from consultants AlphaBeta, which found drone deliveries could save customers a combined 3 million hours on pick-up journeys by 2030.

It follows predictions from the same firm that drone deliveries could inject up to $40 million a year into the ACT economy, with the aircraft offering a quick and cheap delivery method capable of connecting businesses to a vastly expanded range of customers.

Wing chief executive James Ryan Burgess said the company was undertaking extensive consultation with the local community before it launched into Canberra's north.

Consultation will be held in the next fortnight, starting with feedback session at the Crace Christmas Carnival on Saturday.

“We feel privileged to be a small part of Canberra’s story as an innovative city of the future, by showcasing what the future of faster, safer and more environmentally responsible transport looks like," Mr Burgess said.

“As Wing establishes its longer-term site, our priority is to listen to the residents of Canberra - particularly those in Franklin, Harrison, Crace, Gungahlin and Palmerston where we hope to be operating - to understand their preferences, questions and concerns before we begin operating.”

Wing's drones have completed more than 2000 deliveries since they arrived in Australia in 2014, with the majority of those coming during its ongoing trial in Bonython.

Bonython residents Elizabeth Stokker, Nev Sheather and Margaret Sinfield delivered a 1000-signature petition to the ACT Assembly to block future household drone delivery trials in the capital.

Bonython residents Elizabeth Stokker, Nev Sheather and Margaret Sinfield delivered a 1000-signature petition to the ACT Assembly to block future household drone delivery trials in the capital.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

The service has sparked a strong community backlash, with residents and parliamentarians raising concerns about the noise, invasion of privacy and a perceived lack of oversight from authorities.

Residents opposing the trial this week presented a 1024-signature petition to the ACT Assembly, which called on the government to block future drone delivery services in the capital, including Wing's proposed operation in Canberra's north.

The assembly this voted month voted to establish an inquiry into household drone delivery, which will examine the Bonython trial, potential gaps in regulation and the economic benefit and environmental impact of the delivery method.

Liberal Mark Parton this week praised the Bonython activists, saying their efforts to rally opposition to Wing's trial represented "serious community activism at work".

"Whatever you think about the issue of drone delivery, you cannot question the hard work and passion of this group," Mr Parton told the assembly.

Dan Jervis-Bardy is a Canberra Times reporter.

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