Belgian hospitals have begun testing a drone to save time delivering human tissue samples across city centres, between patients on the operating table and medical labs, a first in Europe.

On Tuesday, a drone flown by a private contractor took off from an Antwerp building in the ZNA hospital group and flew 800 metres to land on the roof of the GZA group’s Sint-Augustus site.

Slung underneath the quadcopter was a sterile flask containing human tissue samples to be tested for cancer cells. The first test flight was followed by four more.

The private company Helicus is the only firm in Europe to have been granted a license to use unmanned aircraft for medical purposes, over cities and with a remote pilot out of light-on-sight.

The drone itself is manufactured by the Belgian firm SABCA, and Helicus hopes to have developed a commercial operation…