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CEO of Manna, Bobby Healy, beside a delivery drone at the operations hub in Blanchardstown town centre. Muiris O'Cearbhaill/The Journal
from above

Drone food delivery firm says it plans to address noise complaints as it starts D15 deliveries

The drone delivery service started in Blanchardstown last week.

A NUMBER OF local councillors have recieved complaints from residents of Dublin 15 over the noise of a new drone delivery service that has begun in the Blanchardstown area.

The company behind the high-flying food, Manna, is an Irish start up from entrepreneur Bobby Healy. It began trials of its services in Blanchardstown this month and is due to begin its full operation next week.

At a launch event in Dublin yesterday, Healy addressed concerns over the noise levels by saying it was “not going to be an issue”. 

Videos of the drones started appearing on social media within the last week, with some residents of Dublin 15 either aghast, confused or excited with their arrival.

The drone delivery service started in Blanchardstown last week but has been operating in other areas of Fingal, such as Balbriggan, over the last number of months. The company also has operations running in Texas in the United States.

The digitally-operated drones work from a hub located on the campus of the Blanchardstown Town Centre and can deliver to people’s homes who are in a 3km radius.

Healy told reporters yesterday that the four drones in Blanchardstown have the ability to do eight flights, per drone, every hour.

The Journal / YouTube

While there have been some welcome reactions to the new delivery service, some residents have already sent complaints to councillors in the area over the noise the drones make.

Labour party councillor Mary McCamley said she had received a small number of emails complaining about the drones.

Another councillor from the Dublin 15 area said those who are of older age group will show “no love” for the new venture, and had worries over the noise and potential impact it could have on local wildlife.

However, Fianna Fáil councillor Howard Mahoney said he has recieved largely positive feedback from residents about the drones’ arrival to Blanchardstown and viewed it as “the way forward”.

When asked about these complaints by The Journal at a launch event yesterday, Healy detailed a number of mitigation measures that the company has taken in the past when noise levels have caused issues.

“Right now we’re flying 50 metres here in Blanchardstown and we can take it up a little bit higher, but we don’t really need to,” Healy said.

Healy detailed that if one resident in particular has an issue with the noise or the presence of the drones, Manna has measures in order to direct the flight path, accordingly, so that it does not fly near or over that location again.

“That’s what we have done in Balbriggan, we do it in Texas. So that’s not going to be an issue over time.”

The company told The Journal that the relevant local authorities are aware of their services. The IAA said Manna received permission to fly their drones in Blanchardstown after successfully completing the regulatory process.

According to the authorisation body, Manna has completed “tens of thousands of flights in several locations around the country” including in Moneygall, Co Offaly, Oranmore, Co Galway and in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

IMG_2051 (L-R) Blanchardstown Shopping Centre General Manager Joe Gavin, Manna CEO Bobby Healy and Boojum CEO David Maxwell stand under a drone as it lands in Blanchardstown in Dublin. Muiris O'Cearbhaill / The Journal Muiris O'Cearbhaill / The Journal / The Journal

In a statement the IAA said: “Drone delivery operations like Manna Drone Delivery fall into a complex ‘specific’ regulatory category, which requires an explicit authorisation from the IAA.”

The spokesperson added that this type of authorisation is recognised in all European Union member states and companies must provide a lengthy and comprehensive safety portfolio in order for their service to be recognised.

Statistics from the latest census shows that the Blanchardstown area is one of the most densely populated areas in Dublin, outside of the city centre.

Healy said: “We’ve done now 170,000 delivery flights. We have, in total, about 20 complaints in three years. This is the busiest place we’re going to be and it’s the most dense, there’s always going to be complaints and we obviously have to consider them.”

Healy added: “We’re an Irish business, everyone knows us, we’re welcome here. Literally everyone is cheering us on, they want it to work.”

IMG_2024 A Manna delivery drone at the operations hub in Blanchardstown town centre. Muiris O'Cearbhaill / The Journal Muiris O'Cearbhaill / The Journal / The Journal

He added that the company is expected to expand to most to urban areas in Ireland over the next year and are in talks with regulators in three other European countries in hopes to introduce the service this summer.

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