The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted UPS Flight Forward, Inc. (UPS) a Part 135 air carrier and operator certification for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drone) delivery. The certification was granted through the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program and will allow UPS to perform revenue-generating package-delivery activities using drones. As a Part 135 operator, UPS will not have pre-set limits on the size or scope of its operations. Operationally, this allows UPS to fly an unlimited number of drones with an unlimited amount of remote operators in command, and also permits the drone and cargo to exceed the 55-pound limit set by the Small UAS Part 107 Rule. Additionally, UPS is permitted to operate beyond visual line of sight and at night without further authorization.
Moving forward, UPS has a long-term plan for:
- Expansion of its drone delivery service to new hospitals and medical campuses;
- Build-out of ground-based detect-and-avoid technology to enable safe drone operation and expansion of its delivery service;
- Construction of a centralized operations control center;
- Regular and frequent beyond-visual-line-of-sight operations; and,
- Partnering with drone manufacturers to design and build new drones with different types of cargo capacities.
David Abney, CEO of UPS, said, “[UPS] will soon announce other steps to build out our [drone delivery service] infrastructure, expand services for healthcare customers and put drone to new uses in the future.”