U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced October 1, 2019 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded air carrier and operator certification to UPS Flight Forward, an unmanned aircraft system delivery company operated by United Parcel Services (UPS).
Through the Department’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP), the FAA has now approved a Part 135 operating certificate for UPS Flight Forward. This allows the company to perform revenue-generating package delivery activities within federal regulations. UPS Flight Forward may now operate multiple drones under one certificate and under Part 135, UPS can now deliver vital healthcare supplies by flying beyond visual line of sight.
As a participant in the U.S. Transportation Department’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) partnered with UPS Flight Forward as the operator to deliver healthcare supplies around a major hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The flights have focused on the delivery of blood for potentially life-saving transfusions, as well as other medical samples for lab work.
UPS demonstrated that its operations met the FAA’s rigorous safety requirements to qualify for an air carrier certificate, and is based on extensive data and documentation, as well as test flights.
Beginning in 2017, the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) has brought state, local, and tribal governments together with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe drone integration. The program is helping the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) craft new rules that support more complex low-altitude operations by:
- Identifying ways to balance local and national interests related to drone integration
- Improving communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions
- Addressing security and privacy risks
- Accelerating the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations.
The program has created a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to drone integration, and provide actionable information to the USDOT on expanded and universal integration of drones into the National Airspace System.
The IPP Lead Participants are evaluating a host of operational concepts, including night operations, flights over people and beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft.
Fields that see immediate opportunities from the program include commerce, photography, emergency management, agricultural support and infrastructure inspections.
Keep your eyes to the skies as unmanned drone delivery is here!