To scale drone operations in targeted markets faster, UPS has filed for Part 135 certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a newly established UPS subsidiary called UPS Flight Forward, Inc.
The certification, when granted, will allow application for FAA-approved flight operations beyond line of sight, at night, and with an unlimited number of drones and operators in command.
UPS and its partner, Matternet, currently operate special drone healthcare deliveries of medical samples under FAA Part 107 rules at WakeMed hospitals 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 Abney. “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.”
The launch of UPS Flight Forward marks the latest move in the battle between UPS, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc for the lead in the nascent U.S. drone delivery industry.
Alphabet’s Wing got a jump on rivals earlier this year when the company got U.S. air carrier certification for a single-pilot operation.
Amazon said in June it is building fully electric drones. Amazon has “numerous experimental certifications” to test and evaluate its systems.