UPS Flight Forward attains FAA approval for drone airline
UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward Inc has received the US government’s first full Part 135 Standard certification to operate a drone airline.
The company will initially expand its drone delivery service further to support hospital campuses around the country, and to provide solutions for customers beyond those in the healthcare industry.
UPS Flight Forward plans in the future to transport a variety of items for customers in many industries, and regularly fly drones beyond the operators’ visual line of sight.
After receiving the certification, the UPS subsidiary launched the first drone delivery flight by any company under Part 135 Standard at WakeMed’s hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.
UPS chief executive officer David Abney said in a statement: "This is history in the making, and we aren’t done yet. Our technology is opening doors for UPS and solving problems in unique ways for our customers. We will soon announce other steps to build out our infrastructure, expand services for healthcare customers and put drones to new uses in the future."
UPS Flight Forward’s certificate permits the company to fly an unlimited number of drones with an unlimited number of remote operators in command. This enables UPS to scale its operations to meet customer demand. Part 135 Standard also permits the drone and cargo to exceed 55 pounds and fly at night, previous restrictions governing earlier UPS flights.
UPS has previously tested drones for urgent commercial deliveries over water; funded and supported humanitarian deliveries in Africa; and tested non-urgent commercial residential delivery in rural areas with drones launched from a UPS package delivery car.
Part 135 Standard certification enables UPS to integrate drones into the UPS logistics network, creating potential for new applications in many industries. The company has a long-term plan with important milestones in view, including expansing the delivery service to new hospitals and medical campuses around the country., and adding new services outside of the healthcare industry, including the transport of special commodities and other regulated goods.