UPS Flight forward attains drone airline approval


UPS Flight Forward Inc, a subsidiary of UPS has announced it has received Part 135 Standard certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate a drone airline. The company will initially expand its drone delivery service to support hospital campuses around the US and provide solutions for customers in the healthcare industry. In the future UPS Flight Forward plans to transport a variety of items for customers in many industries, and regularly fly drones beyond the operators’ visual line of sight.

After gaining approval the UPS subsidiary launched its first drone delivery flight under Part 135 Standard at WakeMed’s hospital campus in Raleigh, N.C. That flight, using a Matternet M2 quadcopter, was flown under a government exemption allowing for a “beyond visual line of sight” operation.

Earlier this year, UPS partnered with drone-maker Matternet to launch its healthcare delivery service on the WakeMed campus. With its Part 135 Standard certification, UPS is ready to build on this application and expand its service offerings.

“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,” said David Abney, UPS chief executive officer.

The FAA’s Part 135 Standard certification has no limits on the size or scope of operations. UPS Flight Forward’s certificate permits the company to fly its drones with remote operators in command. UPS has stated that this will allow the company to scale up its operations. 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 tested drones for urgent commercial deliveries over water and tested non-urgent commercial residential delivery in rural areas with drones launched from a UPS package delivery car. Part 135 Standard certification will enable UPS to integrate drones into the UPS logistics network, creating potential for new applications in many industries.

Source: UPS