UPS licensed for full drone delivery operations

Celebrating its award of a Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) license to fly commercial drones, UPS launched the US first ever commercial drone delivery flight out of a hospital in North Carolina.

UPS subsidiary Flight Forward Inc was given the first full Part 135 Standard to fly drones, which includes beyond-line-of-sight certification. 


As a first step UPS Flight Forward is to transport parcels across and between hospital campuses, before moving beyond the healthcare sector.

When the license was issued on Friday, UPS launched a drone delivery for WakeMed’s hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. It used a Matternet M2 quadcopter.

Healthcare operations often require extremely quick transport of samples between campuses to improve healthcare outcomes.

“This is history in the making, and we aren’t done yet,” said David Abney, UPS chief executive officer. “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 is benefitting from our knowledge as one of the world’s leading airlines. The Flight Forward organization is building a full-scale drone operation based on the rigorous reliability, safety, and control requirements of the FAA,” Abney said.

“This 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,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

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