UPS, the world’s single largest package delivery specialist, has announced the launch of a drone delivery subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward.
The company has also confirmed a filing for Part 135 Certification with the FAA, with a view to scaling its drone operations in targeted markets.
If granted by the FAA, the certification would be the foundation for FAA-approved flights beyond line of sight, at night, and with an unlimited number of drones and operators in command.
In a statement, UPS said it “intends to remain at the forefront of drone commercial aviation and the industry leader in FAA fully certified U.S. drone operation for routine flights.”
UPS to build on Matternet partnership
Earlier this year, UPS partnered with drone delivery company Matternet to deliver medical samples via drone at the WakeMed’s hospital in Raleigh, N.C.
Part 135 certification will pave the way for service expansions to several other U.S. healthcare networks that have expressed interest in similar services.
“This is an exciting and momentous time at UPS, as we leverage the exceptional power of UPS technology and innovation to bring to market new industry-first capabilities,” said David Abney, UPS Chairman and CEO.
“We have even more exciting solutions on the way. UPS will remain an indispensable partner by delivering value for customers, employees and shareowners through speed, technology and reliable execution.”
Logistics providers fight for aerial supremacy
The launch of UPS Flight Forward coincides with a number of US technology and retail giants taking substantial steps in developing drone delivery networks.
Google’s Project Wing has taken off in Australia, with US expansion expected soon after the FAA gave the green light for commercial deliveries in Blacksburg, Virginia back in April.
Online retailer Amazon has long been developing its Prime Air service. In June the company revealed a new drone design that is currently undergoing testing after the FAA granted approval for R&D flights in authorized areas.
The latest Prime Air drone has a range of 15 miles and can carry packages weighing under 5 pounds. Which is significant: around 75 – 90% of all Amazon’s current deliveries fall under that threshold.