UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF), the UPS drone delivery subsidiary, has taken a major step forward in the drone delivery space having obtained certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the first fully-fledged drone airline in the U.S.
The Part 135 Standard certification permits UPSFF to fly an unlimited number of drones with an unlimited number of operators piloting them. Certification also allows it to carry loads in excess of the current limit of 55 pounds and to fly at night. No sooner has certification been awarded than UPSFF launched a Matternet M2 quadcopter from WakeMed’s hospital campus in Raleigh, N.C. The company will continue to focus on drone deliveries of medical products and specimens, based on hospital campuses, focus particularly on North Carolina.
In a statement, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said UPS’ certification is “a big step forward in safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace, expanding access to healthcare in North Carolina and building on the success of the national UAS Integration Pilot Program to maintain American leadership in unmanned aviation.”
Commenting on the milestone achieved by UPS, company CEO David Abney said: “Our technology is opening doors for UPS and solving problems in unique ways for our customers,” adding: “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.”